Is it safe or even legal for passengers to ride inside your camper trailer while you’re driving?
What if your spouse wants to feed the kids and put them down for a nap in their beds while you’re on the road?
Today, we’ll discuss the legal and safety considerations for passengers in your camper.
Let’s dive in!
Define Your RV Type
Every state allows passengers in a motorhome. That’s not an issue. However, the states have various opinions on allowing passengers in towable RVs and even truck campers.
So don’t assume it’s okay for your spouse to ride in your travel trailer if you see something saying it’s okay in fifth wheels. And don’t expect passengers in your truck camper to be legal in California if it’s legal in Arizona.
Most states prohibit passengers from riding inside any towed camper trailer, whether it’s a travel trailer or a fifth wheel. They also include truck campers in their laws, so check each state you’re driving through, even if you have one.
However, some states allow passengers to ride inside a camper trailer, fifth wheel, or truck camper.
Again, these are different vehicles, so you must check the laws for your specific RV. For example, Alabama only allows passengers to ride in truck campers. Kansas allows passengers in all three types if they’re over 14 years old.
In addition, other states require all windows to be made of safety glass if passengers are traveling inside.
On the other hand, California and other states permit people of any age to ride in fifth wheels or truck campers only if they can communicate clearly with the driver. Mobile phones can lose cell service, so this would include devices such as two-way radios.
The California DMV also offers a Recreational Vehicles and Trailers Handbook that answers all your RV travel questions for the state.
Tips About States That May Not Allow Riding in a Trailer:
A few states have restrictions or regulations on riding in a travel trailer. Here are some states that generally prohibit passengers from riding in a travel trailer:
- Hawaii: Hawaii law prohibits passengers from riding in a travel trailer while it is being towed on a public road.
- Indiana: In Indiana, passengers are not allowed to ride in a travel trailer unless it is equipped with safety belts and designed for carrying passengers.
- Kentucky: Kentucky law prohibits passengers from riding in a travel trailer while it is being towed on a public road.
- Michigan: Michigan law prohibits passengers from riding in a travel trailer while it is being towed on a public road.
- Nebraska: In Nebraska, passengers are not allowed to ride in a travel trailer unless it is equipped with safety belts and designed for carrying passengers.
- North Carolina: In North Carolina, passengers are not allowed to ride in a travel trailer unless it is equipped with safety belts and designed for carrying passengers.
- Virginia: Virginia law prohibits passengers from riding in a travel trailer while it is being towed on a public road.
Remember, laws can always change. Verify directly with the state you plan on traveling in before assuming our information is 100% up to date.
Is It Safe to Ride Inside a Camper Trailer?
Even in those states where riding inside a camper trailer or truck camper is legal, it may not be safe or comfortable to do so.
Have you ever seen a travel trailer with unbolted furniture, like a sofa, after a drive? The couch often ends up on the opposite side of the space! Imagine trying to move around or take a nap during all that shifting and bouncing. And forget trying to cook something or read a book.
It just can’t be comfortable.
In addition, you typically don’t have seatbelts or other safety features inside a camper trailer. What if you’re in an accident?
Do you have that safety glass only a few states require? What happens to your kids if the trailer rolls? Nightmares come to mind when you think about what could happen. So maybe it’s not a good idea whether it’s legal or not.
A truck camper, though, may be safer and more comfortable.
Pets Riding Inside a Camper Trailer
Even in a more comfortable ride such as a truck camper, your pets won’t know what’s happening. There’ll still be lots of sway and bounce, and no amount of sweet talk with prevent the panic attack that’s coming.
And, again, what if there’s an accident?
You might be able to put them in a carrier, but falling items or a serious accident could still hurt them. So it’s a good idea to keep your pets in your tow vehicle.
Riding Inside a Camper Trailer is Okay – Sometimes
Yes, you can legally ride inside your travel trailer, fifth wheel, or truck camper in some states. However, whether or not that ride is smooth and safe is another question.
Maybe shortening your drive time or taking longer breaks on the road would be better choices. Have you ever ridden inside a camper trailer?
How was your experience?
Pro Tip: We recommend following the RV 2/2/2 rule on travel day.
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I rode in our 30’ travel trailer after I ruptured my hamstring and couldn’t sit up. I lay on the bed in the rear and it was one of the most horrible experiences of my life. I was literally lifted up off the bed as we went over multiple little hills. I had to hang on as we went into turns so I wouldn’t be thrown off the bed, and I never knew whether we were slowing down for a turn or some other reason so I was constantly hanging on for dear life. We had no cell service so I couldn’t call my husband and ask him to slow down or stop. I do NOT recommend riding in a travel trailer!
Common sense and a gut feeling tells me not a good nor safe idea.
There is ABSOLUTLY NO REASON for someone to ride in any pull behind camper. I personally know someone who died from carbon monoxide poisoning while riding in a camper and her husband didn’t find out until a few hours down the road at a truck stop. You fall asleep and never wake up.
EDITORS PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE CHANGE THIS ARTICLE. IT IS A HORRIBLE IDEA NOT JUST A “POTENTIONALLY DANGEROUS” ONE. PLEASE IF YOU VALUE PEOPLES LIVES!
I’d try it. Once had to ride in a double axle horse trailer as the vet recommended moving the horse with colic to be moved around to facilitate healing. Riding in the gooseneck horse trailer was very smooth and pleasant. Can’t see why it would be any worse in a fifth wheel travel trailer. How many of you have seen a travel trailer come of the truck pulling it? I never have. I’m looking forward to trying a ride in one someday.
I’ve seen enough travel trailers on fire on the side of the road to realize it’s not a good idea. And I’ve seen a few turned on their side. Even if it’s legal, it’s stupid.