What States Can You Ride in a Travel Trailer or Fifth-Wheel? 21681

One of the best parts of owning an RV is that you get to take your home or second home with you on the road. It’s a place to relax and a way to enjoy new destinations and the open road. With that said, you or your loved ones may be wondering if they can ride in the travel trailer or fifth-wheel when it’s moving down the road.

Let’s take a closer look because this is a question I’ve seen pop up before.

Can You and Should You?

RV seating

This is a tricky situation because every state is different, and the rules even change depending on the type of RV you have. Many states have different rules for travel trailers and fifth-wheels. Then there’s the question of if it’s safe. Even if something is legal doesn’t mean it’s safe or smart to do.

Most towable RVs lack safety belts, meaning if you were to get in an accident with a passenger, they could be horribly injured or even killed. I would suggest you never ride in a travel trailer or a fifth-wheel unless it’s equipped with the proper safety belts, and even then, I would be somewhat hesitant due to the lack of airbags and other safety features.

With that said, I understand the appeal. One person could be driving and the rest of the family could lounge in the RV with more space and access to the kitchen or bathroom. It’s an enticing idea. While I don’t recommend it, I will say that several states allow it.

Where Can You Ride in a Travel Trailer or Fifth-Wheel?

travel trailer

According to AAA, multiple states allow passengers to ride in a travel trailer or fifth-wheel while it’s traveling down the road. I’ll list the states below.

However, double check with your state’s laws. These laws can change, and that would mean you’re no longer legal. Also, keep in mind that if you cross state lines, you now have to abide by the laws in that state.

States That Allow Riding in a Travel Trailer or Fifth-Wheel

The following states do allow you to ride in a travel trailer. However, each one has a different description of what kind of RV qualifies, so check your local laws.

  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • District of Columbia
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi 
  • Missouri
  • Montana (fifth-wheel only)
  • Nebraska
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania (fifth-wheel only)
  • Rhode Island
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin (fifth-wheel only)

It’s important to note that most fifth-wheel only states only allow use if there’s a two-way communication device between the driver and the passenger in the fifth-wheel. Also, always double check the laws in your area or the areas you’ll be traveling to and through. As I said above, the laws can change, and what used to be legal may not always be.


Do you know the laws in your state? Leave a comment below!

What states can you ride in a travel trailer or fifth wheel

Wade divides his time among various outdoor activities in both urban and rural environments. An adventurer by nature, he is always up for a challenging hike, fun hunt, or day out on the water with friends and family. When he isn’t enjoying the outdoors, he’s writing, reading, or tinkering with motorcycles and cars.
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40 Comments

  1. Interesting article, first off, I have NEVER heard of any state allowing anyone to ride in the back of a travel trailer ( rear reciever ball hitch, bumper hitch) actually last I heard it was strictly prohibited. The ONLY RV that I have ever heard it was legal was in 5th wheel RVs. And it is specifically due to the hitching mechanism being mounted directly above the rear axle of the truck. I can only say it is legal in California to ride in a 5th wheel with conditions, 2-way communication between driver and inside RV, safety glass windows, unblocked doorway, and more. Further more I would never do it if I wasn’t meeting vehicle weight limits to the letter of the law. Finally, if everything else was a go, I would definitely use common sense while driving, reduced speed, (55 mph, Ca speed limit when towing ANYTHING.) I would also stay in communication with the occupants of the RV. Making sure all is good. Safe Travels

    1. Hey Gregg,
      I was surprised to find that there are states that allow it you to travel in a travel trailer. I assumed it would be prohibited everywhere, but according to AAA and some other resources I found, that’s not the case. Definitely, an interesting topic.

      1. In California, it is absolutely ILLEGAL to travel wit a passenger in a travel coach (trailer), UNLESS it is a 5th wheel type. Here are quotes from the relevant California Vehicle Code sections:
        People are not allowed in a trailer coach while it is being
        towed (CVC §21712(d)).
        • People are allowed in a fifth-wheel trailer coach while it is
        being towed (CVC §21712 (f), (i)).
        • A camper with people in it must have an unblocked exit door
        which can always be opened from both the inside and outside
        (CVC §23129).
        I am 65, and the trailer coach passenger prohibition has been in place since before I was born.

    2. I can’t drive 55 my Ford f250 with interntional 6.3 only handle good at 70 plus and yes there is a fifth wheel back there but you cant tell because the engine and transmission pull it like a bike.

    3. Unfortunately, the major source authority for this article appears to be AAA, and a review of their “Digest of Motor Laws” state by state is rife with errors on this topic.

  2. Surprising! Having worked for Camping World for a number of years now, I always tell clients to check their local laws, but that I would never be comfortable having my family in a towable (FW or TT). Then again, I’m the kind of nervous mama who gets worried when my children go on school trips in those buses without seat belts! This is good info though. I’ll be sure to pass it on to clients who inquire from now on.

      1. I understand the concern but with that logic no one should ride a motorcycle. We all have to decide our risk level. I feel safer riding in the back of camper than riding a motorcycle. It really is not the government’s job to protect me from my own wise or stupid choices that don’t risk other people’s lives.

  3. Have you ever seen a travel trailer or fifth wheel that has been involved in an accident while being on a speedy highway? They splinter into thousands of pieces. It is absolutely a totally stupid idea to allow passengers to ride in these RVs, and I’m just guessing that few, if any, even have seatbelts. This article implying that it might be okay to ride in one of these vehicles when it’s moving should never have been posted..

    1. Hi, as I stated in the article I don’t think you should ever ride in a towable RV. With that said, I don’t see any problem educating people on the laws. I would never tell someone to ride in a towable RV, but it is ultimately up to them. If it is legal in their state, then they have the right to make that decision.

      1. Even if it was legal, I would not allow anyone to ride back there, the driver makes the decision whether he is comfortable with this.

        1. 100 percent agree Bob! The driver of the rig should make that decision. Personally, I’d say no to someone wanting to ride back there.

    2. I am a retired trooper from Arkansas. Riding in a 5th wheel is a fatal accident waiting to happen. I know, I investigated a few of them over the years. Believe me it is not worth the possible end result.

      1. Agree. Why chance this. I oftain wonder why people take chances that potentially can lead to a disaster. If you want to have family drive in your trailer, first check yourself into a psychiatric hospital because you need serious help.

      2. Glad you chimed in on this! You’re right…TTs and FWs just are not designed with any safety features that protect passengers at 55+ mph. They’re made to be rooms when parked and not an additional cab for a vehicle. THAT would be a train….and such a totally different mode of transportation. ❤️

    3. Yes but very rare and most are the drivers fault. So be careful who you let drive .
      But speed limit is 70 plus down south and Colorado.. so dont let the wimps scare you into 55 drama

    4. Did you actually read the article? Cause the writer listed the safety concerns and said that while it may be legal in some states that doesnt mean it is safe. Meaning its not okay

    5. You need to go reread the post before you post your comments. Because if you had read the article completely through you would’ve read no where in the article did the writer indicate that it was ok or safe to ride in a few/tt. Infact the writer totally discouraged the whole idea! Now had you read the whole article before putting in your nonsense, you’d know this already. So in my opinion your comment should’ve never been posted because it was a complete waste of time and space for comments that are actually useful and worth reading.

    6. Just because YOU disagree does not mean the article should not be posted.
      If you don’t agree, great. Don’t do it. But the rest of the world should not have to do without the info because you don’t agree with it. Nothing wrong with informing people of the laws and letting them make their own decisions.

  4. People should be able to decide these things for themselves. If they are adults, they can make the decision for themselves and their kids. Big Brother doesn’t need to control people’s choices.

  5. I worked in public transportation for over 30 years, inter / intrastate. Commutter transportation consisted of 5th wheel units with a seating capacity of 42. The problem with RVing is the majority of owners have not been professionally trained to drive their rigs. RVing would be a lot safer if a driver training course would be required.

    1. I like this one. When I first started driving my rig, no one asked if I had any idea as to what the hell I was doing. I still don’t. I ran into many a curb and many a pole making those short turns and backed into a couple of things as well. I believe that a mandated license type or training course should exist. And as far as riding in the damn things… You’re nuts! But if you die doing so do it before you have kids as that will help to keep the gene pool purer.

      1. In all reality there is such training. Everything is based on weight. If your towing a trailer combo weight is 10001 lbs and you need a CDL. Weight and length decide on they class of CDL. If you hold a CDL you have proper training.

  6. whether or not if I have someone in the trailer, I see trailers with million dollar race horses in them so I think that risk is perceived to be minimal.

    1. Those horse trailers have special designs to provide fresh air and avoid asphyxiating the horses due to carbon monoxide poisoning. Never do this to your family or pets!

    2. but those horses are insured for millions so if the owners loose them they just buy another. how much is your kids worth?

      1. Agreed, Horse trailers are not made the same as travel trailers. Therefore me riding in the back of our living quarters horse trailer is not the same as a bumper pull travel trailer, lets face it when your card is punched it really doesn’t matter what your in, a sherman tank wouldn’t be safe. God Speed all and happy campinh

  7. Great info. Its a dicey idea to let someone ride back there. However, if the law allows it it is up to each driver to make that choice. I agree 100% with the idea of having people take a course to show and teach how to drive when towing or how to drive an RV. Ive been with a few that have absolutely NO idea how to tow something.

  8. Great comments and insight. Safety first, safety second, and safety third. If I have my family in the back of the fifth wheel, it is during ideal conditions while traveling below the speed limit with no opposing traffic. So if you do allow the unnecessary convenience of loved ones in the fifth wheel while in transit, dont accept a normalization of deviance- i.e. speeds eventually creeping up or operating under less than ideal conditions. Keep in mind, most accidents involving recreational vehicles are from unforeseen circumstances- mechanical failure, adverse weather, fault of other drivers. My Ram 2500 isnt a sports car but pulls 12k lbs like one, and there is an immediate false sense of security with how that amazing machine will perform during a reaction. I’ve worked in public safety for a long time, and the common denominator is speed.
    Always maintain “an out” and safe travels,

  9. I’m really laughing as I read some of these concerns about safety. Article made its point about what the author thought was recommended or not but it’s just describing state laws. Think motorcycle. Many states have helmet laws many states do not. I typically don’t see motorcycles with seatbelts. I have seen many people in cars with seatbelts on in accidents dead. Let people be free to make their own choices and decisions as long as they don’t hurt you. That’s what freedom is. That’s what we veterans have fought for. Me? Im riding in the rear as I please. Enjoy your freedom. Great info.

  10. I my self would probably never ride in one going down the road but some people have a point horse trailers are built a lot better than an rv and the axles are in the very back for a better ride for the horses

  11. We are full time life in our 5w with children.

    Regularly ride with the wife and kids in the 5w. It adds some anxiety to me, but they all love to kick out, relax, run the genny and the ac and ride in comfort.

    Slow lane for me. 65mph max even in 70 zones. Besides, gotta pull them easy anyway so you don’t spill your stuff everywhere. Easy does it on the accelerator and brakes.

    They know sometimes I gotta cinch it down for whatever is ahead of me, everyone knows to stay seated or lying down.

    No there aren’t any seat belts…we understand that. We aren’t trying to put ourselves at undue risk, but we also love our freedoms. We all have different thresholds of risk. I respect both sides. Just choose to be a touch more vigilant about driving while my family can snuggle and hang out in the rig.

    Cheers

  12. Just get a motor home your it’s made with the same safety features as a vehicle cause it is one and still has all the perks of a travel trailer just make sure you know how to drive a bus.

  13. Is it any safer to ride in a motorhome? I have seen some of the smaller ones in wrecks too and its not pretty. I just don’t know if there is a real safe way to do it unless the thing you’re driving is the size of a bus maybe.

    1. Motorhomes are much safer than riding in a travel trailer. They’re designed on vehicle chassis, so they are much safer. Also, there are seatbelts for you to use.

  14. Thank you for all your comments. Especially from the State Trouper and other professional drivers. I plan to rent an RV or travel trailer this summer for the first time. Your comments made me think twice about my plans. That’s the importance of dialog.

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