Which States Allow You To Ride In A Travel Trailer?
Ever think about taking a nap in your travel trailer while your partner drives? It seems like a nice idea, but is it safe? And in what states can you ride in a travel trailer legally?
Nobody likes being cramped up in a vehicle while traveling. This is especially true when you are towing an apartment behind you. You could be taking a nap in your bed or eating lunch at the dinette in your travel trailer while heading to the lake.
There are obvious safety concerns with having people inside the trailer while it’s being towed. It may actually come as a surprise to some that it is even allowed in certain states.
Is it safe to ride in a travel trailer?
Some states say no and some say yes. Personally, I don’t think it’s a great idea, but if you’re traveling in a state that allows it, that will be your decision. The rules regarding traveling in RVs are usually based on two things: the type of RV and the age of the passengers.
Motorhomes and truck campers are generally considered safe, as they aren’t being towed behind a vehicle. Unlike a towable RV, there is no trailer to sway and possibly separate from the tow vehicle. Motorhomes have seatbelts for passengers in the back and you always have direct contact with the driver. In the case of truck campers, there is no chance of sway, and in some models, you do have access to the cap of the truck and/or seatbelts.
This article focuses on travel trailers where seatbelts are not used and it is a bumper pull trailer. These two factors are the main safety concerns: seatbelts for obvious reasons, and the ability of the trailer to move independently of the tow vehicle.
Travel trailers are designed and built for temporary occupancy, not collisions. If you have ever seen a travel trailer that has been in an accident, this will be clear. There are no seatbelts, no airbags, and no structural components to absorb impact.
There is more to consider than accidents
Millions of miles are traveled safely every year by RV owners and many go their lifetime without an accident. A short trip or a trip on roads with no traffic comes with less risk than navigating a four-lane highway; however, there are other safety concerns aside from accidents.
Travel trailers bounce and move around while being towed. In extreme cases, considerable sway occurs, and for anyone inside, this can be very dangerous. Persons falling along with items in the trailer moving around are both safety considerations to make.
Another issue with riding in a travel trailer is that you have no direct contact with the driver. In an emergency, like someone choking while eating lunch, the driver would have no idea of the emergency in the trailer.
What states can you ride in a travel trailer?
Each state has its own laws on riding in RVs, so make sure you know the laws of any state you will be traveling through. Keep in mind the rules are different for different types of RVs, so know before you go.
Reducing sway and bounce is beneficial when towing in any situation; however, it is paramount if there are passengers in the trailer. If this is a normal practice for you, invest in a high-quality anti-sway, anti-bounce hitch.
In the case of travel trailers, the majority of states do not allow passengers to ride in travel trailers. If you are in one of the states that allow it or you are traveling through one of these states, it’s best to check for any changes to laws and full details of them.
So, what states can you ride in a travel trailer? There are currently 11 states that allow passengers to ride in travel trailers. Remember this is specific to travel trailers; fifth wheels, truck campers, and motorhomes are regulated differently in many states.
- Kansas (over 14 years of age)
- North Carolina
If you do choose to travel with passengers in one of the legal states, there are a few things you should do to reduce the risks. Don’t allow children to ride alone in the trailer, make sure there is a way to quickly communicate with the driver like a two-way radio, reduce your speed, and take extra caution driving. Use RV-safe trip planning tools like RV LIFE Trip Wizard and RV LIFE Pro to ensure that you’re on a safe route for your rig.
Kendall lives with his wife and their two cocker spaniels full-time in their RV currently in Mexico. He is one half of DashboardDrifters.com and the co-founder of RVSpotDrop, a web service for full-time RVers.