Can I Legally Ride In A Travel Trailer?

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Updated March 1, 2024

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 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.

Can I Legally Ride In A Travel Trailer

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.

Is It Safe To Ride In A Travel Trailer?

Travel trailers are a popular choice for adventurers and campers alike. They offer the convenience of having your own living space on wheels, allowing you to travel and explore easily. 

But is it safe to ride in a travel trailer?

The short answer is no. Riding in a travel trailer while it is being towed is not safe. Manufacturers do not design or equip travel trailers with safety features for passengers inside while on the road.

Most states have strict laws against riding in a travel trailer while it’s being towed. For example, California Vehicle Code Section 21712 prohibits a person from driving a motor vehicle towing a trailer coach, camp trailer, or trailer carrying a vessel containing a passenger, except in specific circumstances. 

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.

Safety Glass

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?

Riding is permitted in a fifth wheel while on the road but only in 19 states. Generally speaking, the same rules that are used 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, fifth wheel trailer, or motorhome regardless of their construction or the state law.

Is It Legal to Ride in a Truck Camper?

You are allowed 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 pickup 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.

StateTravel Trailer5th WheelTruck Camper
CaliforniaNoYes* “Yes* “
District Of ColumbiaNoNoYes
New HampshireNoNoNo
New JerseyNoYesYes
New MexicoNoNoYes
New YorkNoNoYes
North CarolinaYesYesYes
North DakotaNoYesYes
OregonNoYes* “Yes
PennsylvaniaNoYes* “No
Rhode IslandNoNoYes
South CarolinaNoNoYes
South DakotaNoYes* “Yes
West VirginiaNoYesYes
  • 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

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.  

In the event of an accident, motorhomes have safety features that can help minimize the risk of injury to passengers. 

Depending on the state, passengers must remain seated and buckle up throughout the ride to ensure safety.

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.

Can You Sleep In An RV While Driving?

Sleeping in an RV while it’s moving is unsafe and not allowed. 

Passengers should always wear their seatbelts when the RV is in motion, and resting in a seat with a seatbelt on is safer than lying in the back.

Our Opinion On Riding In A Travel Trailer While Driving

While it may seem convenient to ride in a travel trailer while driving, we strongly advise against it. Not only is it potentially dangerous, but most states also have laws prohibiting it.

You should not ride in travel trailers while the vehicle is moving. Compared to regular RVs or cars, they do not have adequate safety features and seating arrangements. As a result, passengers who ride in a travel trailer are at a greater risk of injury in the event of an accident.

Traveling inside a moving travel trailer is also uncomfortable and nauseating because of the constant movement and swaying. It’s much safer and more comfortable for everyone involved if passengers remain seated inside the designated passenger area.

Final Words On Passengers Riding In RVs While Driving

I don’t want to sound “preachy,” but when it comes to riding in a truck camper, travel trailer or 5th wheel, 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, riding in a towed trailer or 5th wheel is dangerous so 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 motor vehicle and towed trailer 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.

Be sure to check out some of our other articles about Travel Trailers below for useful tips and gear you will need to make your travel trailer camping even more enjoyable.

Can You Sleep in an RV While Driving?
25 Beginner Tips for Travel Trailer Camping
The Best SUV for a Towable Travel Trailer
Travel Trailer Turning Radius Tips

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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Mike Scarpignato – Bio

Mike Scarpignato created over five years ago in 2018 to share all we have learned about RV camping.

Mike is an avid outdoorsman with decades of experience tent camping and traveling in his 2008 Gulf Stream Conquest Class C RV and 2021 Thor Challenger Class A motorhome.

We attend RV Shows and visit RV dealerships all across the country to tour and review drivable motorhomes and towable trailers to provide the best evaluations of these RVs in our blog articles and YouTube videos.

We are 3/4-time RVers who created to provide helpful information about all kinds of RVs and related products, gear, camping memberships, tips, hacks and advice.

Mike and Susan from RVBlogger at an RV Show touring reviewing and rating RVs

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10 thoughts on “Can I Legally Ride In A Travel Trailer?”

    • Hi Alex,
      It depends on the state you are in. But I would not recommend riding in the back of a travel trailer even with seat belts.

  1. You don’t want to do this even putting the safety and legalities aside! I’ve done it… It’s loud! It vibrates! It sways from side to side! It bounces! Travel trailers do not have shocks or good suspension like a car.

    • Hi Ben,

      I totally agree! Riding in a travel trailer, or leaving your pet in the travel trailer while you drive is a terrible idea!

      Thanks for your comment.


  2. I remember one summer on an interstate, we saw two RV trailers on their sides within a 5-10 mile distance. I would not put anyone in a trailer.

    • Hi Ronald,
      Thanks for that sobering info. It’s a good reminder that accidents happen.

      • Wouldnt whatever state your from dictate what law you fall under? Meaning if your from a state that does allow it your allowed to follow the law where your drivers license is issued?

        • Hi Duane,
          I used to think that the state where you are from dictates the law that your vehicle would fall under but this is not the case. Every state has their own laws regarding vehicle size, window tinting, etc and if you drive through that state you are subject to their laws. Fortunately, the police are somewhat forgiving about these issues but if you are in an accident you could be cited, or sued.
          Thanks for reading the article and asking the question!

  3. Even if legal, go ahead and try it, then let us know how bad it went.

    • I thought it’d be nice and cozy for my very elderly mom to ride in a travel trailer until I saw a couple of times how badly smashed a travel trailer can get in an accident. Pile of toothpicks with an axle or two sticking out.

      I’d only want passengers in a travel trailer during an emergency evacuation where, otherwise, the people and critters would be left stranded.


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