Can You Ride in a Travel Trailer While It’s Being Towed?

by Gabrielle DeSantis

It’s hard not to get excited when you’re hitching a camper to your vehicle for an adventure. But sometimes, RVers forget about basic safety rules. It might seem like a fun idea to ride inside a travel trailer while it’s being towed, but it can be dangerous. It might even be illegal in your area.

Where can you ride in a travel trailer?

Surprisingly, many states allow you to ride in a travel trailer while it’s being towed. Some, such as Georgia and Idaho, allow riders to do so without any restrictions, AAA reports. But in California, you can ride in a towed trailer only with a door that opens from the inside.

Pennsylvania allows drivers to ride inside a towed trailer only if it’s a fifth wheel with a communication link. That means the driver must have a way of communicating with the passengers inside the trailer, like a cell phone. 

Alabama law says you can’t ride in a towed trailer, but riding in a pickup camper is acceptable. Only 10 states outright ban riding in a towed trailer, including Wyoming and Ohio.

Can you ride inside other towables?

If you can’t ride inside a travel trailer, you likely can’t ride in other towables, such as boats. However, Alaska designates that passengers can ride inside motorhomes as long as occupants use seatbelts or child seats. In Connecticut and Kansas, you’re not allowed to ride in a motorhome transported on a highway.

But the Washington State Legislature says passengers can ride safely secured inside a car on a flatbed truck. Every passenger still must wear a seat belt and ensure young children sit in car seats. One adult must remain in the vehicle at all times and have a line of communication with the driver. The law also doesn’t allow anyone to exit the vehicle while the truck is in motion.

Additionally, many states discourage drivers from towing boats from the back of trailers for safety reasons. Arkansas is one of the few states that allows drivers to tow more than one recreational vehicle, AAA says. Some states also don’t allow you to tow house trailers longer than a certain distance without a permit.

Why you shouldn’t ride in a travel trailer that’s being towed

Though motorhomes have seats with seatbelts, there’s little chance a travel trailer is equipped with the same. If the driver crashes into something, the riders inside the trailer will be jolted around and potentially injured. Campers also aren’t equipped with airbags or any advanced safety features.

Even if the driver avoids a collision, unsafe driving practices can also endanger passengers inside a trailer. For example, the driver might have to swerve unexpectedly to avoid an obstacle. Doing so could cause unsecured items inside the trailer to collide with passengers. Being shoved into the walls of the trailer can hurt as well.

And though the person towing the trailer might be a safe driver, you can’t predict other motorists’ behaviors. Another driver might hit the travel trailer from behind or on the side. 

There’s also the chance the hitch could disconnect, leaving the trailer in the middle of the road. And though unlikely, it can be hazardous if the travel trailer disconnects at high speed. So even though many states allow riding in towed vehicles, it’s not worth the risk.

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