Now that summer is right around the corner, people are gearing up to hit the open road in their RVs. It also comes with some slightly different traffic laws. If you’ve been parked for the winter, here’s a quick refresher before you’re ready to roll.While the laws that apply to your car also apply to RVs, there are also laws that are specific to the operation of an RV on the road.
General RV Traffic Laws
Everything from a camper on a pickup truck to a pop-up camper, to a travel trailer, to a large motor home are all classified as RVs as far as the law is concerned.
Check here for information on RV driving speed by state.
Trailer Lights – When towing an RV, such as a fifth wheel, travel trailer, pop-up camper, or other pull behind, the trailer lights must be operational so that cars behind you can see your turn signals and brake lights. Also, a trailer can put weight on the rear of your tow vehicle, forcing the nose upward. This means that the headlights are aimed upward, putting them directly in oncoming drivers’ eyes. This is not only dangerous, but illegal. Once your trailer is attached, check your headlight alignment and adjust accordingly.
Lane Usage – When operating an RV, you must stay in the far right lane except when you are preparing to turn, when passing, or getting on or off the interstate or highway.
Check the cities and areas where you plan to park to make sure it is OK to part your RV overnight. Some states have strict laws that prohibit parking overnight at a rest area, others have restrictions for different rest areas, and others allow it for all rest areas. If you will be parking in a business parking lot overnight, such as a Walmart or Kmart parking lot, check with the manager and keep your slides in. If you will be parked in a residential neighborhood, check with the homeowner association to find out their policies on RV parking.
Required Safety Items
Some states require you to have certain safety items on your RV. This often depends on the type of vehicle and size of the rig. This may include trailer brakes, a breakaway switch, and safety chains. Check the laws in the states where you will be traveling to get the most current requirements.
State Laws for Riding in an RV
Each state has its own laws regarding operating and riding in an RV within the state lines. Some states prohibit RVs in certain towns or on certain streets, safety features that must be in use, and size limitations. Where passengers are allowed to ride in an RV is a very common question and the laws vary by state. Following is a breakdown of general state RV passenger laws. They are based on the most recent research, but always check before you travel to make sure the laws have not changed.
(TIP: To easily find your state, press CTRL and F at the same time; a search box will pop up in the upper right corner. Just type in your state and it will direct you to the corresponding area of the post.)
Passengers are only allowed in pickup campers.
Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio,
Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, Wyoming
Passengers are only allowed in pickup campers if the riders can easily access the cabin.
Passengers are allowed in pickup campers but must be at least 13 years old.
Passengers allowed to ride in pickup camper, travel trailer, and fifth wheel.
Arizona, Iowa, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Hampshire
Passengers allowed to ride in pickup camper, travel trailer, and fifth wheel but must be at least 14 years old.
Passengers allowed to ride in pickup campers and fifth wheels only.
Montana, North Dakota, New Jersey
Passengers are allowed to ride in fifth wheels but certain restrictions and exceptions apply. Passengers are allowed to ride in pickup campers with no restrictions.
Wisconsin, West Virginia
Passengers allowed to ride in a fifth wheel and pickup camper if they have the ability to communicate with the tow vehicle, there is safety glass in the window, and an exit can be opened from both the exterior and interior. Riding in a travel trailer is prohibited. All passengers must wear seat belts.
California, Oregon, South Dakota
Passengers allowed to ride in a fifth wheel if they have the ability to communicate with the tow vehicle, there is safety glass in the window.
Passengers are not allowed to ride in a towed RV (fifth wheel, travel trailer).
Passengers are not allowed to ride in a towed RV (fifth wheel, travel trailer, etc.) or a pickup camper.
Are you ready to hit the road? How do you research the traffic laws for different states?