Motorhome Air Brakes in Alberta FAQ

By Samantha Lemna  | 
7/31/19 3:58 PM
    

Large black and grey Class A motorhome parked in a small campsite. The slides are out and the curtains around the front windshield are drawn.

If you’re thinking of buying or simply driving a motorhome with air brakes in Alberta, you might have some questions. We’re here to help you answer them! We’ll go over the most frequently asked questions we’ve received about motorhome air brakes in Alberta. 

 

Do I need a special license to drive a motorhome with air brakes in Alberta? 

You do not need a commercial license to drive a motorhome with air brakes in Alberta, but you do need a special endorsement on your license. This is called a Q endorsement. 

To legally drive a motorhome equipped with air brakes in Alberta, you must have this endorsement. That means if more than one family member or friend wants to drive the motorhome, each person will need to get their Q endorsement. 

 

How do I get the Q endorsement in Alberta? 

Assuming you’re a resident of Alberta, you’ll need a valid class 5 Alberta driver’s license. A class 2, 3, and 4 license is also acceptable. (If you have a class 1 license, you should already have the Q endorsement.)

First, you’ll complete classroom training. Second, you’ll need to do some practical training. Once you’re ready, you can attempt the practical assessment. If you pass, you’ll receive a “Notice of Air Brake Program Completion” form, which must be brought to an Alberta registry. There, you’ll need to pass a knowledge test. For more information, visit the Government of Alberta’s air brake program page.

You can do this through an authorized driving school and an Alberta registry.

 

Does the Q endorsement expire in Alberta? 

No, the Q endorsement doesn’t expire and will stay on your license. You can drive motorhomes with air brakes in Alberta for as long as you have a valid license!

 

Can I drive a motorhome with air brakes in Alberta if I’m not a resident of the province?

If you’re visiting Alberta and planning to drive a motorhome with air brakes, you’ll need a valid license and will need to meet any air brake licensing requirements of your home province or state. If you’re renting, you should also check with the rental agency for their requirements.

 

Do all motorhomes have air brakes?

No, not all motorhomes have air brakes. Usually, air brakes are found on Class A motorhomes - the biggest and heaviest rigs. 

 

Why do some motorhomes need air brakes? 

Some motorhomes are huge and very heavy - this makes stopping them difficult. Air brakes are less prone to failure, making them a safer option. 

 

Is my insurance affected by motorhome air brakes in Alberta?

No, your insurance is not affected by air brakes as long as you (or anyone driving your motorhome) have the Q endorsement on your license. 

 

Is driving a motorhome with air brakes different? 

Yes, motorhome air brakes affect the way the vehicle brakes. Your stopping distance is increased as air brakes have a slight lag before they begin to work. Your ability to stop is impacted by your perception, reaction time, brake lag, and your effective braking distance.

You should account for the increased stopping distance by expanding your following distance to at least 5 seconds.

Remember that your ability to stop is also impacted by the weight of your rig, how fast you’re going, your brake condition, the grade of the road, and your traction. Increase your following distance as you speed up or as driving conditions deteriorate. 

 

When braking normally, you should push the brake pedal down with even pressure and release the brakes just before the full stop. Reapply pressure to hold the stop.

 

If you need to emergency brake, apply the brakes as hard as you can without locking the wheels. You should avoid pumping the brakes as your motorhome may have an anti-lock brake system or it will cause your brakes to lose air pressure, making them less effective. 

 

If you lock the wheels or need to make a turn or steering adjustment in an emergency brake, you should let off the brakes and reapply as soon as the wheels are rolling (up to 1 second) or you’ve completed your steering.

 

How do motorhome air brakes work?

This one is best left to the experts. You’ll learn more about how air brakes work in your Q endorsement class but you can also check out this article on understanding motorhome air brakes.

 

If you have any further questions about motorhome air brakes in Alberta, be sure to leave them in the comments below.

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