Riding in an RV while traveling through some beautiful landscapes is the American dream. However, there are some laws and rules that might pop your dreamy bubble.
The issue arises when someone wants to go to the back of the RV to chill out and doze off. But is it legal to do so while on the move?
The following post answers this question in detail. I’m also going to talk about some safety issues that you must consider and a bunch of other stuff. Keep reading!
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Traveling in an RV can feel very liberating and prove pretty convenient, but considering the different state laws, it can all get complicated very quickly.
One state might give you a lot of freedom to do whatever you want in your RV, but the moment you step into another state, all that stuff can become illegal.
So before I can discuss whether you can sleep or use other amenities in an RV, you need to figure out if you are allowed to ride inside the RV in the first place.
Many states don’t allow passengers inside the towable while driving when it comes to travel trailers and fifth wheels. This means all the passengers need to be crammed inside the towing vehicle for as long as you’re moving on the road.
You’re not allowed to stay inside a travel trailer or fifth wheel in the following states while driving:
- New Hampshire
- New Mexico
- Rhode Island
That’s a total of 27 states that don’t let you ride in your RV. And since you can’t be in the RV while on the go, it automatically prohibits you from sleeping inside it as well.
Some of these states do allow you to stay inside a truck camper while driving, though. As I said, state laws are complicated and vary widely. For a detailed list that includes the age limit for children allowed in the RV, check out this post.
It is legal to ride inside travel trailers and/or fifth wheels for the states that aren’t on the list. But before you go ahead and sleep at the back of your RV or motorhome, you must consider the state’s seat belt law.
Let’s suppose you’re traveling through a state that lets you ride in an RV while moving. But does that also allow you to sleep inside of it? Not necessarily. This is due to the seat belt laws that all RV-ers must follow.
Seat belts require you to sit in one place, all buckled up. This means you can’t legally sleep on the bed inside your RV – you can only remain seated with a seat belt.
However, not every state requires all passengers to have seat belts on – some only ask the front passengers to buckle up.
This leaves the passengers in the back in a bit of a ‘gray’ area. Since they can be in the RV without seat belts, they can technically move about or sleep if they want.
However, it is generally illegal for anyone to sleep inside a towable while it’s moving. Towables cannot survive crashes like motorhomes can, which makes them dangerous.
The restrictions ease up a bit when it comes to motorhomes. People are allowed in the living quarters and, if your state permits you to ride without a seat belt, you can legally sleep in a bed inside a motorhome.
But if your state requires all passengers to be buckled up, you obviously can’t have anyone sleeping on a bed. This also means that you must have seat belts installed in the seating arrangements inside your motorhome or towable.
The following are the states where only the front passengers in an RV/motorhome need to have seat belts on:
- North Carolina
So far, we know that you can’t sleep inside towables and that you may sleep inside a motorhome, depending on your local seat belt laws.
But even if you can legally sleep inside an RV or motorhome, should you be doing so? No. Unless you can sleep with a seat belt on, you shouldn’t let any passengers sleep on a bed.
Whether it’s a towable or the safest motorhome ever, it will always be dangerous to sleep in a moving vehicle, especially with children.
For instance, if the vehicle suddenly comes to a halt, the person in the bed can roll over and fall. Or, if there’s any sort of emergency, anyone who’s sleeping might not be able to react properly in time.
Hence, you should refrain from sleeping in a bed or any foldables inside a motorhome, even if the law allows it.
There’s no clear law prohibiting people from cooking, using the bathroom, etc. while on the move. However, you should consider your safety before doing any of it.
It’s not safe to cook on the stove or even use the microwave while the vehicle is in motion. Anything could topple over and make a mess, and possibly burn you.
Moreover, using the burner fuel while driving is very dangerous on its own. Hence, it’s better to stop somewhere if you want to use the kitchen.
As far as using the bathroom is concerned, it’s relatively safer. All you use is the electrical wiring and water pumps in your vehicle while in the bathroom, so a quick trip there isn’t very dangerous.
However, it’s generally unsafe to move about in an RV or motorhome while driving, even at low speeds.
It’s illegal to sleep in most RVs or even ride in them while driving, so what are you supposed to do if passengers want a quick nap/break?
If you’re a law-abiding citizen and worry about your family’s safety, you’ll have to stop and park somewhere to use the living quarters.
Here are some places where you can take a quick break or even spend the whole night:
- Walmart welcomes RV-ers in their parking lots with designated spaces for RVs. You can safely spend a night here as there’s usually good security in these stores.
- Costco and Sam’s Club also offer RV parking spaces.
- Cabela is another store where you can park your RV for free.
- Residential neighborhoods are safe for spending the night, but the people living there might not be so enthusiastic about you parking there.
For long term stays, you might want to do your research beforehand and look for good RV campgrounds or national parks around the area.
My conclusion? Don’t sleep in a moving vehicle. Considering the varying state laws, you might get heavy tickets for breaking the rules. Plus, it’s an unwise move anyway – you might decrease your chances of surviving an accident.
It’s always a smart idea to look for a place to park so you and your family can take a quick break. The sites I mentioned offer free parking spaces, so you don’t have to worry about paying just for using the bathroom in your vehicle. Remember: safety always comes first.