Can Passengers Legally Ride in a Fifth Wheel?


Knowing whether or not passengers can legally ride in a fifth wheel is hard. Every time you cross into a new state, the laws seem to change!

Can passengers legally ride in a fifth wheel? The legality of riding in a fifth wheel differs from state to state. States such as Arizona, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Wisconsin allow the riding of passengers in the back of a fifth wheel. A lot of states restrict the age to a minimum of 14 years and the fifth wheel must have an unlockable door inside and out. 

Riding in the back of a fifth wheel can be exciting for younger family members, or even allow you to travel with more people comfortably. States have different laws on this because of safety issues and restrictions applied. Make sure to learn everything you can about where you’ll be travelling through before letting people ride in your fifth wheel. 

Fifth Wheel Passengers: By State

States have the governmental ability to create their own laws. What comes along with those rights is the need for people to be aware of the different laws and restrictions that come and go as you cross over state lines. 

What is perfectly legal in one state can turn completely illegal once you change states. It is vitally important to do your research when you travel to avoid any roadblocks or trouble on the way. 

This makes traveling difficult with RV’s because states lay down certain requirements and those requirements will change as you make your way across a few. Some dictate the allowable length and width of your RV as you travel. Finally, some may allow passengers to travel in the RV; whereas, other states strictly prohibit it. 

Being aware of where you are going and where you’ll be passing through will allow you the time to prep and give you the peace of mind to know that you’ll have no issues.

As you plan your trip, review this list of states that allow passengers to ride in the fifth wheel. You may need to change the seating arrangements as you move through states that won’t allow this practice. 

Here is a list of all the states that allow a passenger to legally ride in a fifth wheel:

  • Arizona
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin

Just because the state you were hoping was on this list was in fact on it, doesn’t mean that even these individual states don’t add their own rules to the pile. 

In the following states, there must be some reliable communication system that could go between the passengers and the driver.

  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Wisconsin

This is an important addition in some states because it’s a way to ensure that no problems arise that the driver isn’t aware of. 

The reason that so many states don’t allow people to ride in a fifth wheel while traveling is because it’s really unsafe. There are unpredictable consequences that can occur during travel.

High winds or erratic driving could cause tipping in some cases. Other problems can occur with the lack of seat belts in fifth wheels and the real possibility of cabinets swinging open and dumping its contents on your passengers. We recently wrote an article all about why fifth wheels sway and roll over, and how to better prevent that. Find the article here.

Fifth wheels were not designed as a mode of transportation. The point of a fifth wheel is to have somewhere to sleep, cook, and hang out during trips. They are hitched to a car where the passengers were intended to sit during transportation.

As you have seen above, some states declare it safe enough. This is one of those laws that involve your own decision making skills. You have the ability to decide what’s safe enough for you and your family (within the confines of the law, that is). 

So, if you feel comfortable having passengers in your fifth wheel then here are the things you’ll want to know. 

Restrictions

All of the states that allow passengers riding in a fifth wheel will have their own individual interpretations of what that means. They may all also have little rules to tack on to that allowance. 

One example is that the passenger must be at least 14 years old to ride in the fifth wheel itself. This is strictly for safety purposes. Younger kids may need extra supervision to stay seated, leave things where they are supposed to be during travel, and leave the door closed. 

Another example is the necessity to have an exit that can be easily unlocked and opened from both the outside AND the inside. This is also for the safety of your passengers. 

Some other restrcitions may include the need for seatbelts to be worn when riding in a fifth wheel. A lot of fifth wheels may not come with seatbelts preinstalled, so these are things you will have to consider before making the purchase or allowing passenger to ride in it.

Keeping Your Passengers Safe

If you plan on allowing a family member or general passenger to ride in the fifth wheel, make sure to take some precautions.

Contents Shift During Travel

Like we all hear in an airplane’s pre-flight safety presentation, “Be careful opening overhead bins, bags may have shifted during takeoff”. The same thing applies when thinking about a fifth wheel or any RV type.

You want to make sure that all of your food, personal items, and other loose paraphernalia that could fall or shift during your travels is securely in place before starting your journey. The last thing you want to do is allow your passengers to ride in your fifth wheel with everything falling and shifting. 

Safety Glass

You may also want to consider the type of glass in your fifth wheel’s windows if you intend to have passengers traveling in it. Safety glass is highly recommended because it minimizes the danger of having glass shatter and injure anyone.

If your fifth wheel does not already have safety glass, you may want to consider installing some. There is risk involved in all forms of travel. You want to make sure your passengers are safe in case of an accident, the fifth wheel overturning (unlikely), or something simple like a rock shattering the window. 

Seat belts

Something else you may want to consider is the availability of seat belts in your fifth wheel. It’s a proven fact that seat belts save lives, and your passengers can only benefit from having access to that particular safety feature. 

You may be able to modify a fifth wheel you own, but the majority of fifth wheels do not accommodate passengers with the availability of seat belts. Laws will also come in to play for this part when states require the use of seat belts when traveling. 

No matter what you decide, always make sure to take extra precautions to keep your passengers safe and within the bounds of the law. Make sure to accommodate for passengers that will have to ride in the truck with you when laws don’t allow travel in the fifth wheel. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Related Questions

Can you walk around in an RV while driving? It is never a good idea to stand or walk around in any sort of moving transportation. It can be very dangerous for a passenger to walk around in an RV while it’s moving. They should always be sitting or strapped in to prevent any accidents from occurring. 

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