AA top tips for first time campervan drivers

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Are you a first-time campervan driver? The Automobile Association is sharing its top tips for a safe roadie this summer.


As Kiwis hit the road in greater numbers than ever before for domestic holidays, the AA Driving School team is appealing to a whole new class of first-time drivers to watch their speed and take their time these holidays.


More New Zealanders are getting behind the wheel of a campervan, and for many, it could be their first time driving one.


AA Driving School General Manager Roger Venn says motorists need to remember there are some fundamental differences.


“Although a Full Class 1 Licence is enough to drive most campervans, they are much heavier, larger and slower than an average vehicle,” says Roger.


“Keep more space between your vehicle and the car in front. This will allow for a longer stopping distance. Your centre of gravity will be higher than a regular car so approaching corners at a lower speed will allow you to stay in better control of your campervan.


“New Zealand roads can be quite narrow and winding depending where you are. Being in a slower vehicle, it’s also advised to be courteous and pull over when safe to do so if there’s a tail of traffic building behind you.


“Keep in mind your height too, in particular when driving through gas stations or drive-throughs.”


No matter what vehicle you will be driving this summer, ensure you are sticking to the basics.


“Drive to the conditions including reducing your speed when needed, wearing your seatbelt, and if you’re having drinks, don’t drive,” says Roger.


“Avoid using your phone at all times when behind the wheel. Leave your passengers to pick the music, answer your phone, or help with directions.


“Get a good night’s sleep in the days leading up to your trip to ensure you’re well rested and take regular breaks on your way, especially if you’ve got a long journey ahead of you.


“We all want to safely arrive at our destinations so we can enjoy summer so make sure you’re looking out for yourself, your passengers and others on the road.”


More top tips included thinking of your steering wheel as a clock and keep your hands at the 9 and 3 positions.


“It was previously recommended as 10 and 2, but given the majority of modern cars have airbags, this has changed to avoid injury,” says Roger.


“When you stop to stretch your legs, give your kids and dogs the opportunity to stretch too. Never leave them in a hot car.


“Keep a bottle of water handy and some healthy, energising snacks. And set your phone to Do Not Disturb.”


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