Whether you are vacationing on the road or trying it out to completely live your life in an RV or a camper van, the most common question would be, “Is it legal to sleep in an RV while driving?”
Do not be misled. Of course, the driver should always be awake. Does the question entail whether it is legal for the passengers to sleep in the vehicle while driving?
Especially if you are going through a long and winding road, it would be inviting to sleep and wait until the drive is over. However, considerations must be clarified before you consider sleeping while your vehicle is in motion.
To provide a direct answer to the question “Is it legal to sleep in an RV while driving” the response is “it depends on the state where you are driving through.”
The Center for Disease Control or CDC, a national authority in setting rules and policies when it comes to public healthcare, mentions that in the US, there are currently 32 states that require seat belts on all passengers while driving at all times and the other 18 states that consider this as a secondary law.
For the sake of safety, it is generally not advisable to sleep in an RV or a camper van while it is in motion. Unless, of course, you can sleep while you are sitting and wearing a seatbelt, then sleeping is allowed.
Comparing how “sleeping” is defined in line with the context of the question is critical to providing a more definite answer to this inquiry.
It is just normal to doze off while a vehicle is in motion. Sleeping in a sitting position is generally allowed. This is because when you are sitting, you are not entirely rested. It would be easy to wake you up in case any emergencies happen. And the fact that you are required to use your seat belts as the vehicle is in motion keeps you safe even when you doze off a bit during the whole ride.
On the other hand, when you lay down and ultimately be at rest, you might go through deep sleep, making it harder to wake you in case emergencies happen on the road.
This type of sleeping could be detrimental to your safety and every passenger in the vehicle.
The truth about being on the road is, no matter how exciting this adventure is, you need to be very much aware of the unpredictability of situations as the vehicle is in motion.
What Kind of Vehicle Are You Riding?
There are complete RVs and Towable RVs. As in the name, “full vehicle.” It is considered one vehicle unit used for both travel and accommodation. On the other hand, a Towable RV has a separate living space from the driving area. It is often noted as a trailer or a fifth wheel.
Several states in the US do not allow passengers to stay within towable RVs as the vehicle is in motion. This means that passengers are also not allowed to sleep in the RV as the car is being driven.
These states include Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming. All-in-all, these are 27 states that require passengers to stay as alert as possible as they stay in their vehicle while it is driven.
These strict rules are the observation that state governments have when handling road accidents caused by dozing off by the driver or accidents at a rise because the passengers were fast asleep when the accidents occurred. In short, it is hoped by the government within these states that the driver and the passengers of RVs and Camper Vans be as alert as they can be when they are on the road.
Not only for their safety but also for the safety of everyone else that they may encounter as they are driving.
In other states not mentioned herein, you should know that they have particular clauses stating the need for everyone in the vehicle to be alert as it is in motion when defining their seatbelt laws.
Seatbelts must be buckled up when a person is on the road, drivers and passengers included. This means that everyone must and is expected to remain seated as the vehicle is in motion.
Again, this law is for everyone’s safety. This is especially true for kids.
It is undoubtedly tempting to let them sleep in the RV’s comfortable bed while you drive when traveling with children. Parents who have rented their RVs are often confronted with this desire. Hoping to give their child that whole experience of being in an RV while they can still have it, they would want to see their children sound asleep at the back of the RV while it is in motion and wake them up when they reach their destination.
True, being in an RV, whether owned or rented, is a dream for some families. But sleeping while on the road is not a part of that fantasy. Children should be guided explicitly on this matter and understand strict laws about sleeping on the street.
IF you really can’t help it, then find a parking area where you can rest for a bit before you go back out driving to your destination.
The Laws May Vary, but the Reasons are the Same
Sure, there may be varying laws across states that you may pass along as you drive. Imagine trying to sleep in as you go through a form that allows it and then wake up as you pass the border to another state. You would need to memorize the seatbelt law in every state to get that supposed rest you want.
It is always best to stay seated while the vehicle is in motion to avoid confusion. Keep your seatbelts on at all times. This is especially true when riding the RV with children in the back seat. Mind that they follow the strict rules too. This will keep you all safe as you drive and enjoy every view on the road.
What do You Mean by Legal?
The word “legal,” as added in the question being answered in this post, means that such actions are severe and are punishable by law.
While driving, sleeping in an RV should not be taken lightly because state rules do not.
There are checkpoints along the road. There are cameras all around that capture even the insides of the vehicles passing through a particular highway. The rules are severe, and the punishments are as severe as implementing the practices.
So unless you would like to visit the prison or give hours of community service to be part of your journey on the road, you must take all necessary precautions and opt to respect and follow the road safety rules and the seat belt rules in all states.
What About Using the Bathroom?
Other first-time RVs and Camper Vans users have another concern apart from sleeping in the vehicle while it is in motion. They will also want to know if they can use the bathroom?
If there is an in-house bathroom and you are to visit quickly, there would be nothing wrong with visiting the bathroom while the RV is being driven. However, if you feel like you are going to the toilet and might stay there for a while, it is best to ask the driver to stop.
Why? First, if an accident happens and you are inside the bathroom, imagine the surprise you will experience and the panic that you will have to handle while doing your business. Get the picture?
Second, for everyone’s safety, parking the RV for a while to allow a person to use the bathroom as long as needed will make the travel duration more relaxing than when sudden emergencies happen, such as the pipe to the bathroom breaking because the vehicle was in motion.
Believe it or not, these instances do happen. They happen more than just once, even to experienced RV travelers.
Experience teaches a lot but avoiding unnecessary commotions and emergencies on the road is still the best option to enjoy your travel at its best.
When on the road, never forget the importance of safety. Whether you are the driver or the passenger, you are responsible for upholding safety and security rules while you are on the road.
These rules exist to protect everyone taking the road to a target destination.
Let not your vacation or your road adventure turn into a bad experience just because of not following a simple rule of not sleeping on the RV bed. At the same time, it is in motion and following through with the command of using seatbelts while the vehicle is being driven.
Safety first, so your road trip would be more than just exceptionally satisfying.