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Can You Ride In a Travel Trailer (or ANY Towable) When Driving?

Can You Ride In a Travel Trailer (or ANY Towable) When Driving?

Can you ride in a travel trailer as it’s rolling down the road? Can you ride in a 5th-wheel camper while driving? How about a truck camper? Can you ride in any camper trailer while driving down the road? And if you can, should you?

In today’s post, we’re answering the question, “Can you ride in a towable RV while it’s underway?”

By Law, Can You Ride In Towable Trailers While Moving Down the Road?

Let’s start by getting the legal considerations out of the way.

The answer to the general question, “Can you ride in a camper while driving?” from a legal perspective depends on where you’re traveling and on the type of rig you’re towing. State law varies by jurisdiction and type of RV on this question, so depending on where you’re traveling, you could be violating state law.

As it turns out, many states have regulations that explicitly prohibit passengers from riding in moving towed trailers, especially travel trailers. These laws vary not only from state to state, but they also vary in detail. There are also laws related to traveling in any moving vehicle that must be observed.

Seat Belts Laws

For instance, some states require that seat belts be used by all occupants of any vehicle traveling on a public roadway. Others require that only the driver and front seat passenger do so. Many of those require that children under a certain age riding in the back seat be buckled up as well. But even in those states that do not expressly require passengers to wear seat belts, there are child restraint laws that apply.

Child Restraint Laws

In fact, separate child restraint laws are in place in all 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and all five U.S. territories. This alone suggests that it’s not legal for children to ride in a vehicle of any type without complying with safety restraint laws.

A child in a legal car safety restraint system

There are laws in place regarding child safety restraints that would likely prohibit young children from riding in a towable RV while it’s underway.

Moreover, RV manufacturers are only required to supply seat belts for the front passengers, but not for any rear occupants who may be traveling in the rig. So, what does this mean regarding the question of whether it’s legal to ride in a travel trailer if many or most travel trailers don’t have seatbelts or child seat restraints? Specific child safety restraint laws dictate how children must be secured in moving vehicles, so riding in a travel trailer may not comply with these laws anywhere.

Type of RV

All of that said, some states do allow passengers to ride in travel trailers. Again, note that this does not include young children for whom safety restraints are mandated.

However, some of these laws are specific to the type of RV. “Can you ride in a 5th wheel camper while driving?” may be different from asking, “Can you ride in a truck camper while driving? or “Can you ride in a moving travel trailer?”

Age of Passenger

In some states, the language of the law notes that people who ride in moving 5th wheel trailers, for example, must be over 13 years or 14 years of age.

Safety Glass

Other laws detail additional safety precautions, such as safety glass being installed throughout the RV. As with other related safety laws, standards can differ from state to state.


Other state laws may require communication with the driver of the towing vehicle at all times. In areas where there’s no cell phone coverage, you’d need to have access to two-way radios for constant communication in case occupants of the trailer need to communicate with the driver (or vice versa) in the event of an emergency.

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Again, from a legal perspective, you need to check the specific safety standards in the states you’ll be traveling through. With that in mind, according to this report from the RVIA, the following states allow passengers to ride in travel trailers and/or 5th-wheel trailers:

  • Arizona
  • California (fifth wheels only)
  • District of Columbia
  • Idaho
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Maryland
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana (fifth wheels only)
  • Nebraska
  • New Jersey
  • New York (fifth wheels only)
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota (fifth wheels only)
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon (fifth wheels only)
  • Pennsylvania (fifth wheels only)
  • South Dakota (fifth wheels only)
  • Tennessee
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin (fifth wheels only)

Insurance Coverage

Note that it’s possible if you have passengers traveling in your moving travel trailer, fifth wheel, or truck camper, and there is an accident or someone inside the camper is injured due to camper sway, getting knocked around during turns, while driving over rough terrain, from flying objects inside the camper, etc., the incident may not be covered by insurance.

Many policies state that dangerous behavior disqualifies coverage. And many insurance companies would agree that riding in a moving camper that’s being towed down the road is dangerous behavior.

Can Passengers Ride In a Truck Camper?

Here again, the laws vary from state to state, but in many states, passengers are allowed to ride in a truck camper (a camper attached into the bed of a pickup truck).

Having passengers ride in a truck camper should be legal in every state in the country EXCEPT:

  • Arkansas
  • Maine
  • Mississippi
  • New Hampshire
  • Pennsylvania

Note that there are other details to be aware of where truck campers are concerned. For example, some states require that a truck camper has safety glass or access to the cab of the truck and/or that passengers be at least 13 or 14 years of age.

Is It SAFE to Ride In a Travel Trailer When It’s Driving?

Legalities about riding in a moving travel trailer, fifth wheel, or truck camper aside, is it safe? This is where the old saying, “Just because you can doesn’t mean you should” comes to mind. In our opinion, we suggest that no one should ever allow a passenger to travel in any towed camper while it’s underway. Period.

Lucy Ricardo riding in a travel trailer as it's being towed by a convertible driven by Ricky Ricardo

No matter what the law says, we think you should resist any temptation to allow a passenger to ride in a towable RV. If you’ve ever seen The Long Long Trailer, you wouldn’t want to end up like Lucy while Ricky has no idea what’s happening back there! If you’ve never seen the movie and you’re an RVer, what are you waiting for!? 😄

We’re getting close to taking delivery of our new towable RV, and we can tell you that we’d never consider allowing anyone to ride in there. It’s an unnecessarily dangerous practice. Regardless of whether a state allows anyone to ride in a moving travel trailer, 5th wheel, or truck camper, we don’t think it’s worth the risk.

There are just too many things that can happen while towing. And regardless of how safe we are as drivers, we can never predict what might happen on the road with other moving vehicles around us.

Can My Pet Travel In My Towable Camper While We’re Driving?

Here again, we would issue a resounding “No” to this question. Pets are like family members, and they’re our responsibility. Even if confined to a kennel, they could be at risk for no reason. That’s in addition to being miserable, confused, terrified, or just plain anxious.

Rather than concern ourselves with state laws on transporting passengers (including pets) in a moving towed camper, we suggest considering other ways to make passengers more comfortable. For example, try making it your policy to enjoy reasonable travel days by following the 2/2/2 or 3/3/3 travel rule. For more information, see our post on RV driving.

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Gay Traveler (Jason)

Tuesday 6th of February 2024

Washington state, where I live, didn't make the list of states where it's legally okay for a passenger to ride inside a travel trailer or even a 5th wheeler. And I'm fine with that. Unless you're in a campground or shopping centre parking lot, where the speed is usually between 5mph and 10mph, forget it. It's all about safety.


Tuesday 6th of February 2024

In short, I would say a resounding "NO" . The liability and danger is too high.....

Gay Traveler (Jason)

Tuesday 6th of February 2024

@Larry, Absolutely! Although I've never seen it happen first hand, thankfully, I've heard of trailers swaying left and right like the tail of an excited dog before crashing and disintegrating into a pile of rubble.

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