Buying an RV was one of the best decisions you’ve ever made. You love the freedom your motorhome has afforded you, the ample living space it provides, and the quiet comfort of a disconnected life. Sometimes though, you get a little bored sitting around for hours on end. If someone else is driving, are you allowed to walk around in your motorhome?
Whether you can walk around in your motorhome while someone else is driving depends on the seat belt laws in the state you’re visiting. If passengers are required to wear their seatbelts when the vehicle is in motion, then you have to stay put.
This article will unpack the legalities of walking around in a moving motorhome so you can stay on the right side of the law. We have lots of great information to come, so make sure you keep reading!
Walking Around in a Moving Motorhome – RV Seat belt Laws Across the Country
When we talk about walking around in a motorhome, FYI, we’re referring to class A, class B, or class C RVs, not travel trailers nor any other type of trailer. That’s an important distinction to make, as you’re not supposed to ride in a moving travel trailer in many states.
So, with that out of the way, let’s talk about the legalities of walking around in a moving RV. First, if you’re driving the RV, you should never ever get out of the driver’s seat while the motorhome is moving. The vehicle will crash and everyone in it could be seriously injured or killed.
For the passengers, you might want to stretch your legs. That means unbuckling your seatbelt and wandering around.
Before you do, you must know the rules. RV seatbelt laws are not the same as seatbelt laws for cars and trucks. Let’s take a closer look at these laws.
States That Require Seatbelts When the Vehicle Is in Motion
In the following states, there will be no unbuckling while the motorhome is moving, at least not if you don’t want to get in trouble with the police.
- South Carolina
- Rhode Island
- New Mexico
States With Other Seatbelt Laws
These states still require seatbelts, but only for certain passengers of various ages. Here’s more information.
- Wisconsin: If passengers in the back are 15 or under, they must wear their RV seatbelt. All front-seat passengers are required to do the same regardless of age.
- West Virginia: The same rule as in Wisconsin applies in West Virginia, but rear motorhome seatbelts are required for those 17 or under.
- Virginia: Like the other states we’ve discussed, front-seat RV passengers must wear a seatbelt when driving through Virginia no matter their age. In the back, passengers who are 16 and younger are mandated to use their seatbelts too.
- Texas: If your teens protest about seatbelts, they need to buckle up anyway in Texas. Riders in the backseat who are 17 or younger must wear their seatbelts, as must all front-seat passengers.
- Tennessee: In Tennessee, the law is that backseat passengers who are 16 and under need seatbelts, not 17. Front-seat adult passengers must wear a seatbelt too, and that includes the motorhome driver.
- South Dakota: If you have adults in the back, South Dakota does not require them to wear a seatbelt. That’s not the case for adult riders in the front.
- Pennsylvania: Adults under the age of 18 who are in the backseat must wear a seatbelt in the RV. Front-seat riders regardless of age must do the same.
- Oklahoma: Once a child is older than 12, they don’t have to wear a seatbelt when sitting in the back of an RV in Oklahoma. Front-seat passengers still need seatbelts.
- Ohio: In Ohio, there is no rule for backseat seatbelt use. The same is not true of the riders in the front. They need seatbelts.
- North Dakota: As has been the case in other states, North Dakota requires riders in the front of the RV to wear a seatbelt no matter how old they are. In the back, riders who are 17 and under need a seatbelt.
- North Carolina: Another northern state with similar rules, North Carolina mandates that riders who are 16 and younger in the backseat of a motorhome wear a seatbelt. All front-seat riders must too.
- New York: Kids younger than 15 and riders in the front need a seatbelt if you’re passing through New York.
- New Jersey: Everyone in the front, buckle up! In the back, riders who are older than 17 can do as they please (but they should still wear a seatbelt in our humble opinion!).
- New Hampshire: New Hampshire makes its RV seatbelt laws according to the age of your motorhome. If yours was produced before 1968, then everyone in the vehicle must wear a seatbelt. That doesn’t apply to newer RVs.
- Nevada: Unless your motorhome is crawling along at speeds slower than 15 miles per hour, then everyone in the vehicle needs to wear their seatbelts when driving through Nevada’s deserts.
- Nebraska: Young adults under 18 still need a seatbelt when chilling in the rear of an RV in Nebraska. Front-seat riders also must wear a seatbelt.
- Missouri: In Missouri, backseat riders who are 15 and younger must buckle up, and so must everyone in the front.
- Minnesota: Once a kid turns 10, they can eschew a seatbelt when riding in the back of a motorhome in Minnesota (not like we’d recommend that). Everyone in the front must have a seatbelt on though.
- Michigan: As is the case with many states on this list, children who are 15 and younger need a seatbelt for back-seat use. Front-seat passengers cannot skip seatbelts either.
- Maryland: In the front, Maryland demands seatbelts, but not in the back of an RV, curiously enough.
- Louisiana: Young’uns can ditch the seatbelts in Louisiana when in the backseat of a motorhome. They can be as young as 12 and still be on the right side of the law, although mom or dad will likely never go for that. The front-seat driver and passenger need to wear their seatbelts when the vehicle is moving.
- Kansas: Check that riders under 14 are buckled up before you start your RV, as that’s a requirement in Kansas. Front-seat riders need seatbelts too.
- Indiana: The state of Indiana does not require seatbelt use for RV riders in the back, but they do in the front.
- Illinois: Having improved their seatbelt laws over the year, Illinois now requires passengers 15 and under to use their seatbelts. All front-seat passengers need to do the same.
- Idaho: Idaho usually requires everyone in a motorhome to wear a seatbelt unless your vehicle is more than 8,000 pounds.
- Georgia: Until you’re a legal adult (18 years old), then Georgia mandates that backseat RV riders use a seatbelt. The driver and passenger in the front can’t get around this rule either.
- Florida: The same rule as in Georgia applies in the sunny southern state of Florida.
- Connecticut: Once you’re older than 16, seatbelts in the back of an RV are optional in Connecticut. In the front, the driver and passenger must be buckled up.
- Colorado: As soon as you hit the gas, Colorado law dictates that you and your front-seat passenger need to wear seatbelts. The law does not extend to rear passengers in a motorhome.
- Arizona: In Arizona, children who are 15 and younger cannot forego a seatbelt, nor can anyone in the front.
- Alabama: Alabama RV seatbelt law doesn’t apply to backseat passengers, but the state requires front-seat passengers to buckle up.
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The Risks of Walking Around in Your Motorhome While Driving
A handful of states allow you to legally walk around in your motorhome while someone else drives, but does that mean it’s a good idea?
No, of course not. Whether you’re getting up to go to the bathroom or you want to grab something from the fridge, at any point, the driver of the motorhome could have to come to a screeching halt.
You’re not braced for that, so you’d go flying across the motorhome. What kind of injuries you could sustain depends on how far you traveled and where you landed. At the very least, you could break some bones, maybe suffer a few contusions, even a concussion. In a worst-case scenario, taking that kind of tumble can be deadly.
It’s not worth it just to get a drink or use the bathroom! You can always ask the driver to pull over so you and your fellow passengers can safely do these things, but when the motorhome is in motion, everyone should stay put, and ideally with their seatbelts on.
Can you Use the RV Bathroom While Driving?
Using the bathroom in a motorhome while driving is generally not recommended and, in many places, it is actually illegal. The primary reason is safety. When a vehicle is in motion, it is important for the driver to remain focused on the road and surroundings without distractions. Using the bathroom while driving can be a significant distraction and may increase the risk of accidents.
Even so, many travelers do so anyways. If your state allows you to walk around in the RV, then you’ll be happy to know that your toilet will work! Because the electrical systems are in action while the car is on the road, you can use the bathroom and flush with the water pump as normal. This applies to Class A, class B and Class C motorhomes.
It is advisable to plan your travel breaks strategically and make use of designated rest stops or other suitable locations to use the bathroom and stretch your legs. This ensures the safety of both the driver and other passengers on the road.
My Motorhome Has No Seatbelts – Can I Install Them?
Some RVs will have built-in seatbelts for the front-seat passenger and the driver, but nothing in the back. If that’s true of your vehicle as well, then yes, you should strongly consider getting seatbelts installed.
If your seatbelts don’t meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety standards for quality, then that’s as good as having no seatbelts at all. Triple-check that you’re buying good seatbelts that can protect your family and friends.
It doesn’t matter if you’re the one driving or riding, most states throughout the US require you to wear a seatbelt when your RV is moving.
Sure, there are plenty of exceptions, but let’s be real. Are you actually going to learn the individual motorhome seatbelt rules for all 51 states? Probably not. Whether seatbelts are required or not, they’re always wise to wear. Seatbelts can save lives, so don’t forget yours!