Sierra Nevada Airstreams -|- Owner's Guide

Enjoyment of the whispering winds, the zephyrs, the airstreams of the Sierra Nevada and Great Basin areas of the United States in a recreational vehicle.

Courtesy on the road

The Golden Rule - do to others what you would have them do to you - is a good place to start when driving your RV. Put yourself in the shoes of the other person and think of how they would feel. Avoid casting judgment or speculating about the motivations of others on the road. Be courteous. Let others be who they want to be and not what you want them to be.

The two second rule

Courtesy on the road is a habit that becomes more important as you get closer to others on the road. Some driver's training used a car's length per ten miles per hour speed as a means to judge when other vehicles are too close. A better guide that is easier to measure is the two second rule. Note when the car ahead passes some marker like a pothole or a paint mark or a pole beside the road. Count a slow two: a-one-a-thou-sand-one-and-a-one-a-thousand-two - if you pass that marker before you get to two you are getting too close to be comfortable. Two seconds at 60 mph is almost 180 feet or 9 car lengths.

Turnouts and passing lanes.

Many states require slow drivers to use the rightmost lane in a multi-lane highway and to use turnouts and passing lanes to allow faster drivers to pass safely. It should be noted that the laws about this usually say nothing about posted speed limits. They say that drivers should not obstruct traffic. It is not a good idea to try to enforce posted speed limits by obstructing traffic as some cops may decide your obstruction more of a concern that a posted speed limit (and some state laws may also indicate this as well).

Avoid stress, take the safe route, and promote positive RV relations by taking advantage of the opportunities provided by the highway department to let others go on their way. A turnout is usually a short stretch of improved shoulder where a slow vehicle can pull off the road to allow others to pass. Passing lanes are where the highway has been widened for a mile or two to allow multiple lanes in one direction.

Note that turnouts are not intended for travel. Take a turnout to slow down and stop if necessary to let cars waiting behind you by. Get back on the main road as if you are entering from a dead stop. You do not merge back into traffic from a turnout. This is why the paint line separating a turnout from the road is a solid line.

Passing lanes are intended for travel. When you move to the right to a passing lane, you should maintain highway speeds as appropriate for your rig and conditions. If there are a lot of vehicles waiting to pass you or you see someone coming up from behind, slow down a bit so they can all pass before you merge back into the primary traffic lane at the end of the passing lane.

Sometimes mountain grades on freeways will have a passing lane, too. This is a third lane that is intended for slow moving vehicles such as large trucks who are laboring up the grade. Traffic in this lane is usually limited to about 45 MPH or so. A similar lane is sometimes used at the beginning of the grade as a place for snow chain installation and just over the crest on the downhill grade as a brake check area.


States are putting aggressive driving laws on the books and the media are playing up cases of what they label as "road rage." These are right up there with efforts to ban the use of cell phones by drivers which follow efforts during the CB craze in the seventies to ban the use of radio microphones. There are also efforts to ban other driving distractions such as eating while driving or, Rush Limbaugh's favorite, farding. All of these are efforts to get into the minds of drivers to mandate safe thinking for peace, love, and harmony on the road.

What you need to keep in mind is that you control your behavior and not that of others. Anything you do to try to change someone else's 'improper' behavior is likely to create an escalating conflict (especially if the behavior is indeed improper). This is why enforcement should be left to the police because they are equipped, trained, and prepared to handle the consequences of those who will escalate conflicts. There are two things you can and should do: (1) notify authorities if you see dangerous driving on the road and (2) stay well clear of those drivers who do not appear to you to be driving safely.

The way you stay well clear of unsafe drivers is travel at a different speed or direction than they do and then give them plenty of opportunity to pass on by and go their own way.

Be a responsible citizen

We need to look out for each other in order to be more comfortable and feel more secure. What should you do if you witness a crime? What can you do to help prevent crime?

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Last updated 02/16/2012