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How Old Must You Be to Legally Drive an RV?

If you’re new to the RV industry, you may wonder about the requirements to drive an RV. Perhaps you’re looking at a towable fifth wheel and a Class A motorhome.

Do you need a special license to operate the motorhome? Can your 18-year-old child take turns driving it?

Let’s take a closer look at how old you must be to drive an RV legally and more details about safe driving on the roads so you can get started planning your adventures!

Can Anyone Drive an RV?

The rules for driving an RV aren’t the same for every state. But regardless of the state where you live, you cannot drive an RV without a driver’s license. So a 17-year-old with a driver’s license can drive the same RV as a 45-year-old with a driver’s license.

How Old Must You Be to Legally Drive an RV?

In the United States, as long as you have a driver’s license, you can legally drive an RV. However, some states require a special license like a CDL, which has additional testing and driving requirements. This doesn’t mean young drivers should drive an RV; it means they can legally operate the vehicle.

It’s crucial to note that there are different age requirements for renting an RV. For example, to rent an RV from Cruise America, one renter must be at least 21 years old. Other companies have an even higher age requirement of 25. Sometimes there’s an additional or higher fee to cover young renters 21-24 because of the higher insurance cost.

Woman driving RV
Once you have a license, you can legally drive an RV.

Do You Need a Special License to Drive an RV?

For most states, you don’t need a special license to drive an RV. Whether towing an RV or driving a motorhome, the license requirements are generally the same across the country. However, there are a select few states with CDL requirements for RVers. 

Depending on the vehicle’s class, weight, and length, states like Arkansas, Hawaii, Kansas, Maryland, New Mexico, and Nevada will require a CDL or a special non-commercial license. The magic number is usually 26,000 pounds. If your RV is over 26,000 pounds or the combination of your tow vehicle and camper is over 26,000 pounds, you might have to get a CDL. However, check the state’s DMV office for the most updated regulations.

Pro Tip: Make sure to never commit any of these 7 Deadly Sins of Interstate Driving.

What Type of RV Is Easiest to Drive? 

The smaller the RV, the easier it is to drive. Among the drivable RV classes, Class B camper vans are much more manageable than Class A and C motorhomes. They are about the size of a cargo van, so they’re easier to turn and park. Backing up isn’t too challenging because they’re only about 17 to 23 feet long.

It’s also much easier to run errands in Class B. You can drive to the nearest grocery store or visit a local restaurant without worrying about space to turn around or a large enough parking spot.

Driving RV
New drivers should be cautious when driving an RV.

Is a Drivable or Towable RV Easier to Maneuver? 

The answer to this question will be different for each RVer. Some people who tow a fifth wheel will share how much easier it is to tow than a travel trailer. Both are towable RVs, but because a fifth wheel rests in the bed of a truck and not on the rear bumper, it’s easier to maneuver because of the tighter turning radius.

In the motorized RV world, adding an RV toad to the back of a motorhome adds a degree of difficulty. You can’t back up without unhitching the towed vehicle, and you extend the overall length. Comparing towable RVs to motorized RVs is more personal preference.

Pro Tip: New driver? Make sure to follow these 10 Unwritten Rules for Highway Driving.

What Should You Know Before Driving an RV? 

For beginners, driving an RV can seem daunting or even scary. There are RV driving school classes you can take to prepare yourself for the road better. But if you don’t have time to go to driving school, it’s crucial that you still practice. Find an empty parking lot and practice backing up. Put out cones and figure out when you need to turn to round the corner. Practice is essential for RV newbies.

In general, remember that RVs are longer and heavier than other vehicles. You must increase your following distance because it takes longer to brake. You want to drive slower and stay in the right lane. Use an RV-friendly GPS, so you don’t have to turn around because of a low bridge or a weight limit.

Is There an RV Driving School? 

There are RV driving schools to help prepare new RVers to hit the road. Traveling is exciting, but it also comes with many challenges. Preparing for those challenges, specifically the ones that accompany driving a large vehicle will make your RVing experience more enjoyable and less stressful.

Are there any other tips you would give to a new RV driver?

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