Is It Legal to Sleep in a Moving RV?

Ever since the pandemic, camping has become even more popular. Camper trailers, motorhomes, and RVs are all selling like hotcakes. One thing that seems to get overlooked is the laws that dictate what you’re allowed to do and not do when traveling with one. 

According to Cruise America, campers have a few questions about what they can do when riding in a moving RV. What’s legal and what isn’t? For example, is sleeping in an active RV allowed?

A woman sleeping in the back of an RV during a trip in South Island, New Zealand
A woman sleeping in the back of an RV | In Pictures Ltd./Corbis via Getty Images

The answer to this question is a yes and a no. Laying down in a bed in the back of the RV camper is prohibited in all situations when someone is driving. It doesn’t matter if you live in a state where seat belt use isn’t required all the time. The reason is that it’s not considered safe to do so. 

Should the driver have to make a quick stop for whatever reason, you could slide out of bed and get injured. However, you can sleep, if you choose to, in the passenger seat of the car. You would have to sit up and be buckled correctly in to do so, though. When you reach your destination or pull off into a large parking lot, you can climb into bed and take a nap. 

One thing you’ll need to keep in mind is the state you’re traveling in. What are the laws there? Some states, like California, require all passengers and the driver to wear a seatbelt in all situations, according to Cruise America. If you’re in Arizona, only the front seat passengers need to wear one, not the back. Of course, the exception to that rule is anyone under 15 years of age has to have one, no matter where they’re sitting. 

Another question people want to know is if they can walk around in the back of the RV during the drive. While it’s certainly appealing to be able to stay busy in the back of the RV and get things ready for a meal or organize storage, so you don’t have to do it when you get there, it’s not allowed. Like sleeping, it’s considered unsafe and could cause injuries. 

If you’re looking to save time for when you arrive at your campsite, you’ll have to get things ready before you leave. You could also get a few things done when you pull into rest stops as well. Otherwise, you will need to wait to get to the campground, or wherever you’re staying, to get what you want to be done. Safety is essential, and you don’t want to do anything that could cause a serious accident

This is where we can finally say yes. There are a few things that you’re allowed to do while someone is driving the RV. Sitting in the back while it’s moving is one of them. This might work well if you plan to do some work remotely in your RV. You’ll still have to follow your state’s laws, though. Some will require you to wear a seat belt, even if you’re sitting in the back. Others say it’s OK to go without one, as long as the front passenger and driver wear theirs.

Believe it or not, you can also use the bathroom while the RV is moving down the road. Now, you’ll have to walk to get to the facility and back, but it’s allowed as long as you’re not wandering around doing other things. When you’re finished, you’ll need to go straight back to your seat. 

Camping in an RV can be fun, but be sure to follow the rules set out for them. Check with your state and see what laws they have regarding seat belts or RV usage in general. If you are traveling in more than one state, check each one to see if there are any regulations you need to be aware of. 

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