Sierra Nevada Airstreams: Enjoyment of the whispering winds, the zephyrs, the airstreams of the Sierra Nevada and Great Basin areas of the United States.

Owners Guide - Driving

The Other Driver

We aren't always alone on the road and many times it is this sharing of the road that can create hazardous situations that require our most careful attention. Failing to judge other driver's path or speed is one of the top ten causes of accidents.

The big rig joy herder

If an 18 wheeler or large bus passes you close by at a significant difference in speed, you are going to experience a handling problem. Sometimes it seems these drivers make a hobby out of creating fright in RV drivers. There are several things you can do.

  1. Keep an eye on the rear view mirrors so passing traffic does not take you by surprise.

  2. Keep to the right in your lane to allow as much space as possible between you and the passing big rig.

  3. Manage your speed to reduce handling problems. Slow down to let the guy by than accelerate just a bit as he passes to ride his bow wave just enough to let it get by under control.

  4. Don't over-react to the handling problems. When your RV gets pushed by the bow wave, your best means of control is to accelerate slightly and be ready to tap the trailer brake. Avoid large steering movements.

  5. Make sure your rig is properly configured (see sway control)

The oblivious driver

There are some folks who just don't get the idea that there is anyone else using their road. Others seem to think that every other vehicle on the road can stop and start just like theirs. These guys pull out in front of you, hold you up on hills, or wander around causing you to have to maneuver to avoid them.

What you have to do is to first detect them and then to distance yourself from them. You want oblivious drivers in front of you so you can keep an eye on them but sometimes your only option is to get past them and put on a little speed to leave them far far behind..

The vengeful

We had a power utility truck driver get angry because we did not stop to let him on a freeway. This guy quickly got in front of us and then proceeded to try to irritate us in any way he could. We just ignored his efforts and kept on plodding down the road. A video tape of his behavior to the utility company (or the police) might have been a fun thing to do, but the issue is to deal with vengeful driver. The best thing you can do is to take the pacifist approach, plod along, enjoy the ride, and ignore the idiot.

If the revenge behavior gets to be a serious hazard, pull off the road at the next convenient place and let the guy get some distance between you and him. If that doesn't work, it is time to place a call to the cops on a cell phone or to use a radio for assistance.

Packs, herds, and cohorts

For whatever reason, traffic tends to bunch up, even on sparsely populated highways. The pack, herd, cohort, or squad is not usually structured and quite fluid. The squad will catch up to slower drivers and often take a long time getting past that driver – all the while making the slower driver a part of the squad. People driving faster than the squad will catch up to it and take while to filter through until squeezing out the front. Note that the speed of the squad down the road is not the same as that of the drivers in it. Physicists will note that this is somewhat like the difference between phase and group velocities in wave theory.

Sometimes drivers fall into a sort of hypnosis and just keep formation. Formation drivers can be particularly troublesome when they form up in the left lane blind spot of some other driver and block any traffic trying to get past. Other formation problems include excess reduction of following distance or driver inattention. Remember the story of the formation flying team that followed their leader into the ground because they didn't realize he had control problems until it was too late. You are an independent driver and must make sure that you drive for your own safety as much as possible.

While having company on the road can be comforting, keep in mind that you are going to be safer if you have a lot of space for your rig on the road. If you find yourself in a squadron of other vehicles, work yourself out to sparser traffic. On long hauls, you will find that squadrons are spaced out, usually miles apart, on the highway. Take a long term approach and position yourself so that you are driving between squadrons rather than in one.

The desire to drive between squadrons is one reason to avoid heavy traffic hours in cities. In heavy traffic, small squadrons bunch up to become big ones and then to create significant congestion with no way out of the herd. You can avoid these situations by planning ahead and only driving in areas with congestion risk at times when it is most probable that traffic will be the least dense.

Your most potent weapon

There is one most important weapon you have to minimize TOD problems. It is based in the 'R' in RV. You control when you are on the road and where you are going. You don't have deadlines to meet. You can pull off for a better time of day or choose another route that is less congested.


National Safety Council Fact Sheet Library -

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration -

National Transportation Safety Board - – A study of army ants to learn about traffic flow – traffic flow theory

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