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What You Can and Can’t Do In A Moving Camper

Unfortunately, you really can’t do much in an RV camper while it’s moving. This is because while you are driving down the road, everyone must obey seat belt laws for their safety.

But we know you have specific questions about common activities while in motion. After all, there are perks to traveling in an RV that fall within each state’s legal limits.

It’s Tempting to Move Around in Your RV When It’s Moving

You probably want to use your tiny house on wheels at all times, but when that house is in motion, think of it as a vehicle first. Not every road is smooth sailing; sometimes, there are potholes, sharp turns, or dangerous drivers with road rage. 

No matter how safely you try to drive, you can’t guarantee everything will go perfectly. This is why we have driving laws: to help everyone on the road reach their destination in one piece. So what can you legally do in a camper when it’s moving?

Can You Ride in an RV Trailer (Travel Trailer or Fifth Wheel)?

Let’s start with a basic question about riding in a towable RV. The simple answer: NO.

Only Class A, B, or C motorhomes offer safe seating options while traveling.

If your travel trailer is hooked up to a towing vehicle, such as a truck, all passengers must ride inside the cab. If a vehicle isn’t meant to drive, it doesn’t have airbags or other extra safety measures to protect passengers in case of a car crash. 

Can You Sleep in Your RV While It’s Moving?

As long as you’re upright in your buckled seat, you can legally sleep in your camper while it’s moving. Sleeping in a bed while the vehicle is in motion is unsafe because the sleeping traveler could fall out of the bed if there’s a sharp turn or bumpy road or panic stop.

However, we admit that we’ve done this many times in our motorhome when we’ve felt ill and needed to put on miles. We’ll put pillows on either side of us so we don’t roll in our sleep, and try to stay on the highways with less stop-and-go or turning traffic. If you decide to do this, proceed with caution.

Inside of RV home from bed to front passenger seat.
While it’s tempting to go lay down in your bed while your RV is moving, it is unwise and dangerous.

Can You Stand and Walk Around in Your RV While It’s Moving?

You should remain seated with a seatbelt while the vehicle is in motion to obey seatbelt laws. Anyone who rode the school bus as a kid remembers how precarious it was to walk in the aisle before the bus came to a complete stop. In other words: it’s not worth the risk of falling over–or worse, getting in an accident while standing.

Most states have seatbelt laws that prevent people from moving around, but some people do it anyway. Legally, it’s not advisable, but a quick trip to get something when on smooth roads is usually okay. Just make sure you spend most of your time buckled in.

Can You Use the Bathroom in a Moving RV?

Again, most states require passengers to be buckled at all times while inside a moving vehicle. It may seem convenient to use an RV bathroom while on the road, but it’s safer to wait until the vehicle stops to avoid falling and hurting yourself. More importantly, if you remain seated and buckled, you’ll be significantly safer in a crash. 

One of the best parts about having a home on wheels is having a bathroom. To use it on the road however, find a safe place to pull over. Once the vehicle is stopped and parked out of the way, you can get up and use the bathroom. 

rv toilet

Can You Cook Food While the RV Is Moving?

Cooking while the vehicle is in motion is very dangerous. If the stove or oven is on and you hit a bump in the road, it could damage the appliances. Besides that, having your propane on is dangerous in a moving vehicle. 

Likewise, juggling pots and pans full of hot food is already tricky enough without being in a moving vehicle. If you need to cook a meal, park in a safe place first. Otherwise, keep snacks within reach of your seat.

Pro Tip: Propane doesn’t have to be dangerous, if used correctly. Apart from not using propane while your RV is in motion, make sure to Avoid Disaster With an RV Propane Detector.

Can You Watch TV in Your RV While Driving?

As long as you’re buckled in and have power to the TV, you can legally watch TV in your camper while it’s moving. Obviously, the driver must be satisfied with listening to the show while focusing on the road.

As for everyone else, some RVs have more seat belts available in the dining and living areas. So, if your couch has seat belts–awesome! If not, consider watching something on your phone while strapped into your seat. 

caitlin driving the motorhome rv
If the driver is not distracted, you can legally watch TV while your camper is moving.

What CAN You Do in a Moving Camper?

You can sit back, relax, and enjoy the gorgeous views! If you’re not driving, you can prepare for a drive in the RV like you would a car trip. Stock up on easy-to-reach snacks and entertainment, or keep your eyes on the window and watch the miles fly by. 

Follow Seatbelt Laws

In the United States, wearing a seatbelt in a moving vehicle is a primary law in 32 states and secondary law in 18. In states where it’s a primary law, officers can pull someone over for not wearing a seat belt. If it’s only a secondary law, the officer can only write a ticket if they notice you or your passengers aren’t wearing a seat belt when you’re pulled over for something else. New Hampshire is the only state that does not have any seatbelt laws.

Staying seated and buckled is the safest way to travel, even in an RV full of extra space. Walking around any area in motion would be difficult, especially when the furniture has to be so compact. There are too many ways to get injured in a moving vehicle, and it’s best just to play it safe and remain seated. 

what to do while rv is moving
Staying seated and buckled is the best way to stay safe while your RV is moving.

Run Your Air Conditioner

The generator can power your AC, just keep in mind how much energy you’re using and make sure to turn off your AC before turning off your generator. 

Pro Tip: Staying cool on the go has never been easier. Here is What You Need to Know About Your RV Air Conditioner.

Run Your Generator (On-Board)

You can use your generator while driving to keep your fridge and other appliances running. However, the generator uses a gallon of fuel each hour you use it and will automatically turn off when you get down to a quarter tank. 

Keep Your Fridge Running

A refrigerator can also run while you’re driving. It’s advisable to turn the propane off while in motion if absorption. A residential fridge can run on an inverter or generator, however.

Many people leave propane on while driving as well, but be sure to turn it at least off when at gas stations, tunnels, and ferries where it’s required by law.

RV Driving Safety - Safety and Security Series Part 2

Remember to Check Your State Guidelines

Stay up to date on your state’s seatbelt guidelines! We want to stay safe while traveling and not spend our vacation days in a hospital or waiting for auto repairs. Don’t get caught by surprise when exploring new states because you’re unfamiliar with their laws. 

Stay Safe Out There! 

RVs may seem more like a house than a car, but at the end of the day, they’re vehicles that have to follow the laws of the road. Even if you can’t sleep in a bed, cook a meal, or take a shower while driving, you can always pull over in the middle of nowhere and take care of business. 

As long as you’re parked safely and have a generator, you have more options than you would in a car. And you’ll stay safe!

What are your rules when your RV is in motion? Drop a comment below.

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About Tom and Caitlin Morton

Tom & Caitlin Morton of Mortons on the Move gave up the stationary life for one where they are constantly on the move. They are full-time travelers, television hosts, and digital media producers.
They left their jobs, sold their house and possessions, and hit the road in September 2015 in their full-time “home on wheels”. Since then they have traveled the US, Canada, and even internationally by RV.
Now, they are Discovery Channel & PBS TV Co-stars of “Go North” on Amazon Prime Video, co-founders and instructors of RV Masterclass, and contributing authors for Hwy.co and an Arizona travel guide.

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Glen A Burford

Monday 20th of September 2021

Just a reminder on the sleeping rule........ That only applies if you are NOT the driver. :0 :) (Sorry, could not pass that up.)

Not So Free

Monday 30th of August 2021

Just a little clarification about TVs. At least in VA the screen can not be visible to the driver while in motion. . Remember when: "The Long Long Trailer". Lucy trying to prepare dinner as they went down the road. Hilarious.

Bill Morgan

Monday 30th of August 2021

Over half of all States allow passengers to ride in TTs or Fifth-wheels. https://blog.campingworld.com/rv-basics/what-states-can-you-ride-in-a-travel-trailer-or-fifth-wheel/

Deborah+Kerr

Monday 30th of August 2021

Thank you - that's good information. Usually it's just the 2 of us, but we're driving our MH with another couple in a few weeks just to get from OH to a Florida houseboat. I wasn't sure if the 2 of us sitting at the dinette would need to wear seatbelts!!

John

Monday 30th of August 2021

A good article! Not sure though if you really wanted to go urban dictionary on us...;-) "Leagally its not advisable, but a quick trip to get something when on smooth roads is usually ok."