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When Can Passengers Ride in Moving Fifth Wheel Trailers?

Published on December 7th, 2018 by Jim Harmer
This post was updated on November 23rd, 2021

riding in moving fifth wheel trailers
Riding in moving fifth wheels is legal in different places.

It’s hard to know if passengers can ride in moving fifth wheel trailers. Every time you cross into a new state, the laws seem to change. Here’s how to make sense of trailer passenger laws across the country.

What Laws Say About Riding in Moving Fifth Wheels

Riding in moving fifth wheel trailers isn’t the nicest way to travel. Trailer noise is surprisingly loud when you’re on the move. Teenagers going camping and young kids might be OK with ear-splitting noise from trailers in motion. But pets will find trailer noise too stressful. Please don’t stick your cat or dog in moving fifth wheel trailers.

If you’re still tempted to do it, wait! State highway laws differ about when it’s OK to carry human cargo in your RV.

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  • Arizona, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Wisconsin say yes, passengers can ride in moving fifth wheel trailers.
  • Other state highway laws restrict the moving trailer passenger age to a minimum of 14 years.
  • Some state laws go further by requiring fifth wheel to have an unlockable door inside and out. 

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. 

A Look at State Laws About Fifth Wheel Passengers

At this time, this list of states that allow passengers to ride in moving fifth wheel can help you plan your RV trip. You may need to change passenger seating arrangements as you move through states that won’t allow this practice. 

Here is a list of U.S. states that allow passengers to ride in moving fifth wheel trailers:

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

Many states enact specific requirements for allowing human cargo in RVs. For example, these states require RV drivers to carry a reliable communication system for trailer passengers and the driver.

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

Why Don’t More States Allow Passengers in Moving RV Trailers?

Fifth wheels were not designed to safely carry passengers on the road. The primary function of any towable RV is giving people a place to sleep, cook, and hang out.

In most states, laws forbit human cargo in moving trailers for one reason: it’s unsafe. The unpredictable nature of getting from Point A to Point B puts trailer passengers at great risk in many situations.

  • High winds, trailer sway and erratic driving can cause wrecks.
  • The lack of seat belts in fifth wheels is another reason it’s not safe to have people riding in moving trailers
  • And there’s a real possibility of cabinets swinging open and dumping objects onto passengers. 

Despite the dangers, many states with a live-and-let-live attitude leave it up to drivers to make their own choices. If you feel comfortable with passengers in a moving fifth wheel, here are the things you’ll want to know. 

How to Keep Trailer Passengers Safe

  1. Install safety glass windows to minimize dangers of shattered glass caused by a traffic accident.
  2. Put seat belts in the fifth wheel. Seat belts save lives, and trailer passengers can only benefit from this safety feature. 
  3. Secure food and personal items to avoid injuries from falling objects.

Conclusion

Some state driving laws say it’s legal to have passengers riding in moving fifth wheel trailers. Some do not. No matter where you travel or what you decide about taking that risk, always take extra precautions. Know state laws. Follow these tips to keep passengers safe in your moving fifth wheel. Lastly, be sure your fifth wheel tow truck can accommodate passengers for trips to states that don’t allow passengers in moving trailers.

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