Can You Sleep in an RV While Driving?

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Can you sleep in an RV while driving? The simple answer to this is no. Nearly all states require all passengers to be seated and belted in while the vehicle is in motion.

Check your state seat belt laws before getting up and moving around. Some don’t allow passengers in sideways seats and New Hampshire is the only state that does not have seatbelt laws.

Is it Legal for Passengers to Sleep in a Motorhome RV While Driving?

Passenger safety is key while riding in a motorhome. While taking a nap isn’t prohibited, it is illegal and unsafe to occupy an RV bed while the vehicle is moving. An injury or worse could happen if the vehicle were to be in an accident.

If the vehicle were to hit a bump or the driver were to slam on the brakes, a person would likely be thrown off the bed and injured. If you can sit up while napping or put a child in a car seat that is belted in, that would be safest.

Is it Legal to Sleep in a Towable RV While Driving

There are some 27 states that allow passengers in a towable trailer. Always check the state for updated information and details. For instance, some states allow passengers only if there is two way communication between the passenger and driver. Some states have age restrictions too.

Keep in mind, towable travel trailers and 5th wheels were not made to protect a passenger in a crash. And it is likely that older campers do not have seat belts. If you have ever seen a travel trailer or fifth wheel after a wreck, you know you would not want to be inside. Also, the motion in a towable is said to mimic a 6.0 magnitude earthquake. It is recommended you stay out of the travel trailer while it’s moving.

Is it Safe for the Kids to Sleep in Bunks While Traveling?

No, it is not safe for kids to sleep in bunks while traveling. Bunks and overhead beds should be off limits while the vehicle is in motion. It would be easy for someone to be injured by falling out of the bed. Young children should be in a car seat that is attached to a seat with a seat belt and older children should be buckled up.

Is it Safe for the Kids to Sleep in Bunks While Traveling
Kids can easily be thrown out of a bunk while an RV is in motion. Photo by J.C. Burkett

When is it OK to Sleep in an RV When it is Moving?

It is only ok to sleep in an RV in motion if you are buckled up and in a seated position. Just like in a car. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is a very good source for checking seat belt laws in every state.

Can I Run the Roof AC While Driving to Keep Passengers Comfy While Sleeping?

Some RVs come with a built in generator. If you have one of these, you are in luck. The RV generator is designed to provide 120-volt electrical power to your RV and you can run electrical items while moving, including the roof AC.

Remember, your generator uses about a gallon of fuel for each hour in use and this fuel is shared with the engine of the RV. While it likely won’t run your fuel tank dry, you do need to keep an eye on the levels. It is not recommended you use a portable generator because they are loud and can emit dangerous fumes.


Pro Tip:

A built in generator is fueled by the same fuel that powers your RV or motorhome. The generator has a safety feature that will automatically cut off the generator if the fuel level drops below a quarter tank. This safety feature ensures that you won’t run your gas tank dry while running the generator.


Can You Sleep in the Overcab While Driving?

No, you cannot sleep in the overcab while driving. The passenger doing so runs the risk of falling out of the bed if the driver has to make a quick stop or being severely injured if there was an accident.

Can Passengers Sleep in a Truck Camper While Driving?

Surprisingly, most states do allow passengers to ride in a truck camper while it is in motion. A few states such as Arkansas, Maine, Mississippi, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania do not allow passengers in a truck camper.

Most of the states that do allow it, have some restrictions, including the age of the passengers and the ability of the passenger to access the truck cabin or be able to communicate with the driver. Safety glass in the windows and seats belts are required and the exit door must be able to be opened from both the inside and outside. This is true in California. In Georgia, riders must have “free access to the drive compartment.” Passengers in Hawaii must be at least 13 years old and in Kansas, 14 years old.

  • No matter what, make sure that children and pets are never unsupervised in a truck camper.
  • Install seat belts and make sure your riders are using them.
  • Secure loose objects.
  • If your truck doesn’t have a pass-through window, consider walkie talkies or an intercom system.
  • Be sure the camper door is unlocked in case passengers need to get out or emergency services need to get in.
  • Install a carbon monoxide monitor.
Can Passengers Sleep in a Truck Camper While Driving

Can Pets Ride in a Towable Camper or Truck Camper?

Whether it is legal or not, just like a human, pets can be tossed around and injured when riding in a towable or truck camper. Even if you have your pet in a crate, there is no way to know what is happening behind you. Also, consider that any RV can become deadly hot when closed up for a period of time. You may have the right to put your pet in this situation, but you should never put your pet in danger by placing them in a moving travel trailer or 5th wheel.

Can pets ride in a towable or truck camper
Photo via Flickr

Conclusion:

To recap, you should not allow passengers to sleep in an RV while you are driving. What may be legal is not always the right thing to do. Ultimately, the question is always about safety, no matter the regulations.

Many take advantage of the space in a motorhome and feel free to roam around without incident. However, it only takes one accident to become a tragedy. In the end, it’s not worth the chance you will be taking with a friend, family member, or pet. No one who is RVing should be in such a hurry that they can’t stop and take a break or pull over to sleep.


Related Reading:

Can You Walk Around in an RV While Driving?

Can I Run The RV Generator While Driving?

Can I Run the RV A/C While Driving?

Is it Legal to Ride In a Truck Camper or 5th Wheel?

Can I Legally Ride In A Travel Trailer?


Terri Nighswonger and her husband Todd are full time RVers and work campers. They have been living full time in their RV for nearly three years with their Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Newton, and their Minnie Australian Shepherd puppy, Remi.

They are currently work camping along the shores of the beautiful Taylor River in Almont, CO, and are enjoying the cool summer temperatures, as well as the abundance of hiking trails. They plan to enjoy the west and then head to Arizona for the winter. Writing is Terri’s passion but she also loves hiking, kayaking, walking her dogs, and anything she can do outdoors.

Full Time RVer Terri Nighswonger

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