Every state has different regulations for passengers driving in campers, RVs, and travel trailers, so before you hit the road you might want to learn about state-by-state regulations. Keep in mind that when you cross a state line the laws might change for driving campers and it is up to you to know and follow the law. When in doubt, check with local law enforcement agencies.
What's the Difference?
Travel trailers, which can be mounted on standard cars, are more affordable than truck campers, they are more mobile than truck trailers, and there is a lot of variety among the travel trailers.
Truck campers, also called pickup campers, are mounted onto a pickup truck. These vehicles do not require another vehicle to pull them. These vehicles are one piece. Most states allow passengers to ride and them. And, of all the campers, it's maneuverability allows you to get in and out of places easier, and it usually does not take up a lot of space at home or in town.
The fifth-wheel travel trailer can have the same amenities as the conventional travel trailer but is constructed with a raised forward section that provides a spacious bi-level floor plan. These models are designed to be towed by a pickup truck and are equipped with a device known as a fifth-wheel hitch.
Planning a road trip with your travel trailer, camper, or RV might be more difficult than you had originally planned if you intend to keep passengers in the camper as you drive. But do not let that stop you from going. Do your due diligence to find out the regulations for passengers and driving laws if you want to stay street-legal in all the states you will be traveling through.
Some regulations require an age requirement to ride in the camper, for example, in Hawaii, the passenger must be 13 or older to ride in a truck camper. In Kansas, passengers are permitted to ride in all three types of campers but must be 14 or older.
Some other stipulations may exist, like in Georgia, if you want to ride in the truck camper, it is allowed, but you must have easy access to the drive compartment. In several states, like California, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Wisconsin, there must be an easy way to have audible or visual communications with the driver.
The following list is a guide only. Laws change, so for the most updated information, consult the state motor vehicles department for the areas you plan to travel through.
|State||5th Wheel||Travel Trailer||Truck Camper|
|Hawaii||No||No||Yes (over 13)|
|Kansas||Yes (over 14)||Yes (over 14)||Yes (over 14)|
* Communications are required between the driver and any passengers traveling in the camper.
Additional Things to Keep in Mind
In addition to laws about passengers, there are also laws about the lengths, widths, heights, speeds, brake, rear lights, and hitch requirements.
The state DMV will be the best source regarding the local laws, although, you can call your local AAA club or police enforcement for guidance, too. As a general rule, most states may restrict trailers that are wider than eight feet.