Wearing seatbelts in RVs is one of the most hotly debated topics in RV safety. Manufacturers are not required to follow the same strict guidelines for wearing seatbelts in the rear of an RV as they do for the front of the cab.
This means that rear seat belts in RVs are often attached to wooden floors rather than steel or other metals. They can give a false sense of security. If you are involved in an accident, RV furniture and items in cabinets can fall on rear seat occupants.
This issue of safety, however, is not about whether you actually need to wear a seat belt in an RV. That is the most important question for people traveling with more than two people.
Do passengers in the back of the motorhome have to wear a seat belt? Let’s find out.
What are the different types of motorhomes?
Although the term RV can encompass many types, there are certain classes of recreational vehicles that distinguish a towable RV from a drivable RV. For example, towable RVs include travel trailers, fifth wheel, pop-up campers, motorhomes, and any other type of RV that is towed by another vehicle.
Motorized RVs, on the other hand, have engines that are self-propelled. Class A motorhomes are the largest and most expensive. These are the typical motorhomes that many people think of when they think of RVs.
The smaller and lighter Class C motorhomes usually have a truck chassis with an alcove bed. They also do not have as large a windshield as a Class A.
Finally, Class B are motorhomes that are similar in size to a van.
Which motorhomes can you ride in during a move?
Although you can legally ride in a towable RV in some states, you should not do so. It is safest for passengers to sit in the tow vehicle. That’s one reason many families choose this type of RV. Your tow vehicle is a safe place for children in their car seats.
On the other hand, motorized RVs allow you to ride along while driving. These have a front cab with two captain seats for driver and passenger. But others can also sit behind the cab in the motorhome area.
Often motorized RVs have seat belts in the couch or dinette to strap in additional passengers. Passengers can legally be anywhere in the RV, but that doesn’t mean they should. Safety is always a priority when traveling.
Do you have to wear seat belts in motorhomes?
Just as there are different requirements for RV registration in different states, there are also different laws for wearing seat belts. It is important to know the different laws to avoid a speeding ticket.
In all states, the two people sitting in the cab must wear a seat belt. New Hampshire is the only state that allows exceptions, but it is best to follow this law no matter where you are driving.
As for passengers in the back of the RV, there are different rules in different states. In Alabama, for example, front occupants must wear seat belts, but rear occupants do not.
In California, Kentucky, and Montana, everyone must buckle up, no matter where they sit or how old they are.
In other states, such as Illinois and Arizona, passengers under 15 must wear seat belts in the back seat of a motor home.
In other states, such as Florida, Georgia, and New York, children under 18 must wear seat belts. So regardless of where you register your RV, you need to know the laws in each state.
Do children have to wear seat belts in motorhomes?
Not all states require children to wear seat belts in motorhomes. As mentioned earlier, Alabama does not require passengers in the back of the RV to wear seat belts. Other states require that all passengers wear seat belts, regardless of age.
In some states, the seat belt requirement is age-based. In Kansas, the minimum age is 14; in Louisiana and Oklahoma, it is 12. North Carolina requires children under 16 to wear seat belts, and New Jersey requires anyone 17 or younger to buckle up.
Tips for safe RV travel with children
Riding with children in a motorized RV has its pitfalls. Many RVers debate the question of whether children still in car seats can ride in the back of the RV.
The federal and state governments have no guidelines on this issue. The biggest problem is that most RVs are not equipped with the shoulder harness that many car seats require.
But aside from the car seat debate, we have some safety tips for RV travel with children. First, stay seated. Children moving around in a moving RV can fall and potentially injure themselves, especially if they are running around. Even a Class A motorhome with the smoothest ride can feel bumps in the road.
Even though there are different seat belt laws, it is safest for everyone to buckle up. This also helps children stay seated. Some families with RVs have chosen to drive a second vehicle for their children to ride in.
This way, they are not tempted to get up and walk around the RV while it is in motion. The children sit safely strapped into their car seats or properly restrained in the rear of the second vehicle.
Remember: These RV safety products will keep you safe throughout your road trip!
Are there laws about wearing seat belts in motorhomes?
There are no federal laws requiring the installation of seat belts in RVs, except for the front driver’s compartment. RV manufacturers are only required to comply with seat belt standards for front passengers.
These cab areas are subject to the same regulations as truck cabs. However, these laws do not include specific standards for rear seat belts.
Can you sleep in a motorhome while moving?
This law also varies by state. In many states, it is illegal to sleep in the back of an RV, although you can nap in the passenger seat.
Even if a state allows this behavior, it may not be the safest or most pleasant activity. If the RV stops suddenly, you can easily fall out of bed. It is best to stay strapped into the front seat with a pillow and recline.