Can You Ride In A Travel Trailer? (State Guide Included)

Can You Ride In A Travel Trailer? Is it legal to ride in a travel trailer? In most cases, the answer is yes.

However, that’s not the end of the story. There are some states that allow passengers to ride in fifth wheels or travel trailers, although it often depends on what type of camper it is.

Read on to find out whether the local guidelines will put a damper on your travel plans.

Should It Be Allowed?

Even if the practice is legal, is it a good idea?

If there are a lot of people in your party, it can be tempting to allow some of them to enjoy the trip from the comfort of the travel trailer. Teens and preteens in particular will be less restless on long drives when they have access to the camper’s amenities.

There’s also an unmistakable allure to moving bathroom facilities. It can take longer than usual for large parties to reach their destination, mainly because of the need to accommodate so many bladders. If the majority of the passengers are ensconced in the trailer or fifth wheel, you’re bound to make fewer stops.

While I understand the appeal, riding in a moving travel trailer can be hazardous. For one thing, there are no seat belts, air bags, or other safety features available in the living space.

In addition, there may not be any way for the passengers to communicate with the driver in case of an emergency. That’s why I would recommend avoiding this practice whenever possible.

That said, when there’s limited space in your towing vehicle—or if circumstances simply provide you with no other option—it might be permissible, if not advisable.

Classifying Your RV

First of all, you need to make sure you know what type of rig you’re towing. This information will come in handy whether you actually get pulled over or not.

Travel trailers can be hitched up to a regular pickup truck or SUV. Some smaller models can even be towed by cars, although it’s important to check the vehicle’s hauling capacity before you attempt it.

Meanwhile, truck campers are the units that sit directly in the bed of a pickup truck. It’s important to note that riding in truck campers is legal in most US states, although some restrictions and exceptions do apply. Currently, the practice is forbidden in the following states:

  • Arkansas
  • Maine
  • New Hampshire
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • Wisconsin

While Hawaii also allow passengers to travel in truck campers, each of the passengers must be at least 13 years of age. Kansas has a similar prohibition in place, but the youngest passenger must be at least 14.

Fifth wheels are travel trailers that offer a raised forward section, which usually houses the main sleeping area. This perk gives these units an apartment-like vibe, which makes them very popular. However, in order to tow a fifth wheel, you’ll need a heavy-duty pickup truck that’s outfitted with a special hitch.

What States Permit Passengers To Ride In Travel Trailers?

This list indicates whether or not it’s legal to ride in travel trailers in the following US states:

StateTravel TrailersFifth Wheels
KansasYes (14 and up)Yes (14 and up)
New HampshireNoNo
New JerseyNoYes
New MexicoNoNo
New YorkNoYes
North CarolinaYesYes
North DakotaNoYes
Rhode IslandNoNo
South CarolinaNoYes*
West VirginiaNoYes

*In these states, a two-way communication system must be in place between the passengers and the driver.

A Word About The Laws

Laws can change from year to year, and sometimes even more often than that. Before you head out on your adventures, make sure to double-check the current regulations for the states you’ll be visiting.

Even if you’re familiar with the basics, you should take a closer look at the laws for each individual state. In Georgia, for example, passengers are allowed to move freely about the living space, but they’ll need to have direct access to the cockpit.

Moreover, you’ll notice that several of the “fifth wheel only” states listed above will allow the practice only if the setup includes a two-way intercom or other communication device between the fifth wheel and the driver’s seat. This regulation was put in place to help ensure the safety of the passengers, since drivers aren’t permitted to use cell phones in most states.

While you’re at it, it’s also a good idea to make sure your RV will be cleared for travel on local highways. The laws also vary from state to state when it comes to camper height and width, so if you have an especially large rig, you might run into trouble at some point down the road.

In Conclusion

So, is it legal to ride in a travel trailer? And even if it is, should you allow it?

We would advise following the local regulations to the letter, especially in the states that have age restrictions in place. If there are young children in your party, they’ll be much safer in the towing vehicle. Otherwise, you can use your discretion as long as you’re adhering to the rules of the state in which you’re traveling.

Best of luck, and happy camping!

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