Can Passengers Ride in a Travel Trailer?
We all know that there is extra seating space in a travel trailer, as well as a cozy bed. Wouldn’t it be great if your entire family could ride in the back of a travel trailer and not all be crammed in the vehicle that is towing it? Many passengers would love to be able to use all of the amenities in their travel trailer while cruising down the road.
It’s perfectly legal to ride in the back of a motorhome. But, is it legal to ride in a travel trailer while it’s being towed? The laws are different in each state. States like Arizona, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, and North Carolina allow passengers to ride in the back of a travel trailer. However, some states require safety glass to be installed in the trailer to legally transport passengers.
Also, states have differing rules for travel trailers regarding, length, width, height, weight, brakes, hitch type, turn signals, lighting, mirrors, and speed limits. So, to be on the safe side, it is best to check the requirements of each state.
The laws regarding towing are handed down by the federal government and are pretty vague. They mostly have to do with the construction of the RV, and how they are being pulled. You’ll be hard pressed to find anything about passengers riding in travel trailers because it’s left up to each state to decide. Every state has its own laws on what types of RVs can transport passengers.
Be sure to check your state regulations before hitting the road if you decide to ride in the travel trailer before you hit the road, especially if you are traveling over state lines. Regardless of if it’s legal or not, we want to make sure you take some safety precautions if you decide to let people ride in the towed RV.
Safety Precautions for Riding in a Travel Trailer
Only some states require these safety precautions, but we feel it would be good to follow them in any instance. We want to make sure that you’re always prepared for what may come and keep you and your passengers safe. The best way to stay safe is not to ride in a towed vehicle, but if you plan to do so, check out the following.
Most travel trailers don’t come with safety glass windows, so it is important to remember not to ride in it until you can get them switched out. Safety glass (tempered or laminated) windows have a layer of material in between two pieces of glass that are bonded to them. This layer helps hold the glass together if it breaks, which is the same way that car windshields are made. If you get into an accident, a rock kicks up, or the widow is shattered for whatever reason, safety glass helps make sure the passengers aren’t showered with a bunch of glass.
Ensure you can gain access from either side of the travel trailer! Make sure the doors are unlocked if traveling with passengers. If you were to get in an accident with the doors locked, emergency responders would be delayed in getting into the camper trailer to administer medical treatment. You want to ensure that the door can be opened from the inside as well. This would allow passengers to escape a dangerous situation before emergency workers even arrive.
This may seem like a no brainer, but don’t allow young children to ride in the travel trailer without adult supervision. You will want someone in the trailer to ensure they stay seated the entire time and aren’t up and running around. As you may remember from riding the school bus in your younger years, you never want to walk around a moving vehicle. Not only is this not safe, but a wobbly trailer makes it harder on the driver of the towing vehicle.
It is crucial that there is a way to communicate from towed vehicle to driving vehicle. This could be cell phones or 2-way radios. We suggest the 2-way radios because you will not always have cell phone service.
With 2-way radios, if anything happens in either vehicle, the information can be relayed immediately. If an injury occurs in the travel trailer, you want to be able to tell the driver to stop or seek medical treatment right away. If something is going on out on the road, the driver should be able to tell the passengers in the RV to brace themselves or hold on if things are going to get bumpy.
We, very strongly, suggest NOT leaving your pets in the travel trailer while it is in motion. They have no idea what is going on and why you left them there. They may panic and get destructive while the trailer is moving, and you have no way to help calm them down or protect them if an accident was to occur. Even if you crate your pet, we strongly suggest you do not travel with your pet alone in the back of a travel trailer. For some additional information check out our article called Is it Safe To Leave a Pet in an RV? where we discuss tips for traveling with pets in an RV and leaving a pet in an RV while you are away.
Can I Legally Ride in a 5th Wheel?
Yes, you can legally ride in a 5th wheel but only in 19 states. Generally speaking, the same rules that apply to ride in a travel trailer also apply to ride in a 5th Wheel. Many people that I have talked to believe that riding in a 5th wheel is legal and that it is common knowledge. But, some states allow it, and others don’t. So make sure you check your state’s (or the states you will be traveling in) regulations. It is unsafe to ride unbelted in a travel trailer, 5th wheel, or motorhome regardless of their construction or the state law.
Is It Legal to Ride in a Truck Camper?
It is legal to ride in a truck camper in every state in the country except for Arkansas, Maine, Mississippi, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania. Some states require the truck camper to have safety glass or access to the truck cab. And others require the passengers to be at least 13 or 14 years old.
Below is a list of states that allow passengers to ride in a travel trailer, 5th wheel and truck camper for quick reference.
|State||Travel Trailer||5th Wheel||Truck Camper|
|California||No||Yes* “||Yes* “|
|District Of Columbia||No||No||Yes|
|South Dakota||No||Yes* “||Yes|
- * Some sort of communication device is required between the driver and passengers traveling in the travel trailer.
- ^ Must have access to the truck cab
- # Must be 13 years or older
- + Must be 14 years or older
- ” Safety Glass Required
1. Is it legal to ride in the back of a motorhome?
Yes, it is legal to ride in the back of a motorhome. And most of the safety advice above applies to ride in the back of a motorhome too. This is one of the big advantages of a motorhome type of RV over a travel trailer. Check out our article called Class C RV vs Travel Trailer where we look at this issue and others to help you decide which type of RV might be best. I always recommend renting an RV before buying one so you can try it out first. Outdoorsy is a great place to rent all types of RVs.
I don’t want to sound “preachy,” but when it comes to riding in a travel trailer, 5th wheel, or truck camper, please realize there is a risk that you could be seriously injured. Please use seat belts and stow away all movable objects. Just because a law says it is OK doesn’t mean it is safe…it just means it is legal. Our first suggestion will always be, don’t do it!
Planning a road trip with your travel trailer, camper or RV might be more difficult than you’d initially planned but don’t let that stop you from going. You’ll need to do your due diligence to find out the regulations for passengers and driving laws if you want to stay street-legal in all the states you’ll be traveling through.
Thanks for reading this article. We have tried our best to check out the info above, but we can’t guarantee its accuracy because states change their laws occasionally. So, please check for yourself before allowing passengers in your travel trailer, 5th wheel or truck camper. Be safe out there, and we hope you found this article informative and useful. If you would like to contact us directly, please feel free to visit our Contact Page to send us an email.
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Jennifer Wright is a freelance writer, content writer, and published blogger. She is happily married to her husband of 23 years and has three grown boys. Jennifer was injured at work in 2011 and lost her job due to that injury. She was asked to help her friend write a couple of blogs, and it has now turned into her full-time position, which she absolutely loves. When Jennifer is not on her computer writing, she enjoys driving her 2017 Camaro, camping in her travel trailer, and spending time with her friends and family.