When I grew up, people didn’t have to wear seatbelts. Kids didn’t use car seats either and nobody questioned whether or not they were allowed to have people in the back of their RV or camper while driving.
Of course, when I grew up car accidents were more likely to result in serious injuries as well.
Can you be inside an RV camper while driving?
You cannot be in the back of an RV while it’s moving unless it is a Class C, Class B or Class A motorhome equipped with seating that was meant to be used while in motion. It’s not legal to stay inside a camper trailer while it moves.
Why Can’t I Be Inside My RV Camper While Driving?
- It isn’t safe.
- It’s usually against the law.
- You won’t be able to tow as well.
Vehicles are meant to safely carry the driver and his/her passengers.
The seats are designed to protect the passengers, seat belts are installed to restrain the passengers, and airbags are in place to ensure that the passengers stay out of harm’s way.
In fact, modern day vehicles are actually designed with crumple zones so that even if the vehicle is wrecked, it’s done in a way that still protects the passengers. Some older drivers complain about crumple zones and say that new cars don’t survive accidents.
Of course, you would rather have the passengers survive the accident over the vehicle! Besides, if the car is completely destroyed your insurance company will have to replace it rather than repairing it.
Motorhomes and camper trailers are not built in the same way. In fact, camper trailers aren’t designed to carry passengers at all. Their frames are often made from 2″ x 2″ thick lumber.
Would you really want to be crashed into with only a 2″ x 2″ frame to protect you from the impact?
Motorhomes aren’t that much better. The back seats are typically not made with passengers in mind. Most will not have seat belts or airbags and some will not even remain stationary after a crash.
While you might think its fun to sit at your RV’s dinette table while you drive, don’t do it unless it’s built for that. Sit at the seat that has a seat belt and that was designed to hold up under the impact of a crash.
An example of what happens when an RV is involved in a crash.
The Barstow-area Crash
In 1994 the state of California decided to change the seat belt laws for trucks that had camper shells attached to them. They decided that passengers could sit in the back of pickup trucks without wearing seat belts as long as the truck bed had a camper shell on top.
Unfortunately, this change proved deadly. Shortly after this law went into effect, a truck camper full of 20 people was involved in an accident and twelve people were fatally injured.
In which states must (all) passengers wear seat belts?
Even if this story doesn’t convince you that driving in a seat without a seat belt is a bad idea, hopefully, the law will.
In the United States, most states have passed laws that require all passengers to wear seat belts at all times.
Below is a chart from the CDC’s website:
|State||Primary Law||Secondary Law||No Law|
|District of Columbia||X|
As you can see, every state with the exception of New Hampshire has a law regarding the use of seat belts.
One further reason not to have people in your camper while you’re driving is the fact that it will make towing more difficult. Campers are built with towing in mind and the weight is distributed accordingly.
Place a few people in the back of a towable camper and it will throw this distribution off. This can lead to severe swaying and a lack of stabilization.
Which Type of Campers Can I Be Inside While Driving?
Motorhomes are the only types of campers that can safely and legally transport passengers.
These include class C, Class B, and Class A motorhomes.
The reason for this is that these are the only vehicles that are built to withstand a motor vehicle accident. In addition to this, these are the only types of RVs that have seat belts installed inside of them.
Campers That Hold Passengers
- Class B Motorhomes
A Class B campervan is often designed to hold anywhere from one to five passengers as well as the driver. The only issue is that while the vehicle can safely travel with five people inside of it, it cannot comfortably sleep five people.
For example, Winnebago’s Era model has six seats with seat belts but only sleeps two people.
- Class C Motorhomes
While the Class C motorhome is larger than the Class B motorhome, I’ve never seen one that can safely transport more than three or four passengers and a driver.
This being said, all four passengers would have a place to sleep in a Class C motorhome.
An example would be Winnebago’s View model. It can carry four passengers and a driver and could comfortably sleep all five people. This is because there is a bed in the back, a cab-over bed, and the dinette can convert into a bed as well.
- Class A Motorhomes
A Class A motorhome is the largest of the three types of motorhomes. It can comfortably hold many more people than the other two models but ironically holds even fewer passengers.
One great example of this is Winnebago’s Grand Tour model. It is 45 feet long and not including the bed, can easily seat up to nine people. However, this vehicle only has four seats with seat belts.
Some people might be tempted to transport more than 4 people inside of it, but this isn’t a good idea. Not only would this be unsafe, but it would be illegal as well.
Tow Vehicles That Hold A Lot Of Passengers
Sometimes it’s easier just to get a camper and use a tow vehicle with lots of room for passengers. If your camper is really large and heavy, you could go with a full-size truck with passenger room for five.
The Ford F-250 crew cab would be a good example of this type of truck.
You could also buy a full-size van that holds eight to ten people and still tow a large camper. Chevy’s E-250 or E-350 would be great for transporting a large family while also towing their camper at the same time.
For people with campers under 8,000 pounds, the Chevy Tahoe and Chevy Suburban can transport six and eight people respectively.
Pop-up camper owners have it even easier. A person with a pop-up camper can drive a minivan that can hold up to eight people while still towing their pop-up camper safely.
Can You Use The Bathroom In An RV Camper While Driving?
You cannot use the bathroom in an RV camper while driving. If you need to go to the bathroom while traveling, pull over for a few minutes and do so in safety.
One of the worst places to be during an accident would be on the toilet. Even if you’re not injured, you’ll be half-naked and you’ll be sitting over the top of the black water tank. That is the pure definition of a “messy accident”.
Wouldn’t you be embarrassed to find yourself on the Internet, out on in the streets with your pants pulled down around your ankles?
Can You Sleep In An RV Camper While Driving?
You cannot sleep in an RV camper while driving. The only exception to this is if you can sleep sitting up. If you’re one of those lucky people who can sit in the passenger seat and sleep, then go for it.
If not, wait until you’ve stopped to rest and then take a nap in the back.
Can You Cook In An RV Camper While Driving?
You should never cook in your RV camper while driving. Cooking in a confined area is dangerous enough without adding the additional stresses of traveling. Not only is cooking while you’re driving dangerous, but it’s also inconvenient as well.
Why not wait until you get to your destination so that you can cook your food properly? Wouldn’t it be better to cook your food safely than arrive at your destination only to find that you’ve burned your dinner during the drive?
Morten is the founder of GoDownsize. He has filmed and interviewed people living in tiny houses and RVs since 2011. He grew up on the coast where his dad took him boating from a young age. He has completely rebuilt two RVs in which he travels with his family for months at the time. Read more about Morten here.