6 RV Rules You Didn’t Know About
This post was originally published on Synchrony Car Care.
Taking a road trip in a recreational vehicle (RV) may seem daunting at first. New rules to follow and laws specifically surrounding RVs are just a few things that will differ from driving a car. But there’s a lot you can learn before stepping foot in an RV that will help you have a comfortable first experience. From knowing the exact height and width of your RV to making sure you know the laws in the specific states you’ll be adventuring through, there’s plenty of info that you can learn to ensure you get the full RV experience. Here are six helpful tips about RV rules and regulations to read up on before your next RV adventure.
Planning a road trip vacation? Here’s the best list of things you’ll need.
RV rules of the road
While rules regarding RV parking and seat belt laws differ on a state-by-state basis (and they’re changing all of the time), here are some universal guidelines you may not know about that should be followed when taking an RV for a spin.
Table of Contents
Know the height and width of your RV
In order to safely travel through tunnels or across a bridge with low hanging beams, most states limit the possible height of an RV to 14 feet, and in some states the max height is 13’6”. These are in place mainly for safety reasons. Since not all bridges, tunnels or viaducts are the same height from state to state, your RV may not safely travel through them which could cause damage to your RV, the state property, or both. The maximum length allowed can vary from 40 feet to over 50 feet depending on where you are traveling.2
If you exceed either the height or length limit you could end up with a pricey ticket. Some residential neighborhoods may even have rules against RVs of certain sizes being driven on their streets, so be on the lookout for signs restricting RVs and always have a backup plan.3 4 Do some research before you start your journey to make sure you are not over the height or length limit in the states you will be traveling in to avoid a pricey ticket.
Know RV Parking Laws and RV Storage Laws
Parking an RV is not like parking your car. Many states do not allow long term parking of your RV on the street in front of your house and while many rest areas have designated parking for RVs, not all of them do. But there are a lot of safe places to park (and sleep) while riding in an RV. National and state parks usually have nice places to park your RV with beautiful sites as an added bonus. If you’re looking for a place to rest while continuing on to your destination but there’s no park in sight, many businesses such as Wal Mart, Cracker Barrel, Cabela’s, Camping World, Costco’s & Sam’s Club allow for RV’s to overnight in their parking lots.10 Checking online or calling ahead before you start traveling to plan out places you can park or purchase any passes you might need will be important to save you time and a potential headache.
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Research the required safety items for your RV
When storing your RV, most states require a safety chain, the chains that are connected from the trailer tongue to the tow vehicle that make sure your trailer is properly connected to your tow vehicle, and breakaway switch, a switch that automatically slows and stops your RV if it should become detached from the tow vehicle while driving. Separate breaks are almost always required for trailers that are over 3,000 lbs.1 In order to protect yourself and other drivers on the road, if you plan to pull your RV behind your vehicle or if you plan to pull your car behind the RV, you’ll need to be aware of the regulations relating to safety devices such as equalizing hitches, sway control, and independent braking systems. All of these should be readily available if you’re renting an RV, just make sure to ask where they are beforehand to familiarize yourself with the vehicle. 5 8 9
Read about the 5 RV Repair Essentials to Take on the Road here.
Have the correct license
Most RVs are able to be driven by anyone with a standard drivers’ license. But some RVs, especially the largest ones, require special licensing (like a commercial drivers’ license) in order to operate them. Be sure to check the weight of your RV before your trip. If it’s over 26,000 lbs. you’re going to want to make sure you have the correct license before you get behind the wheel.2 3
Follow RV Seatbelt Laws
Seatbelt laws vary state by state, but it is strongly recommended that you wear your seatbelt no matter your age or where you are sitting in an RV. Many states only require that the people sitting in the front of the vehicle be strapped in while passengers in the back of the vehicle do not need to be (unless they are a minor). Make sure to double check the laws of the states you will be traveling through and always drive safely.6
Drive safely by following the 5 Ways to Keep Your Mind Active on the Road.
Make sure to know campground rules
Campground rules will vary site to site, but even though you’re camping in a vehicle instead of a tent they’re important to follow for the safety and comfort of yourself and other campers. Read up on pet policies before you bring your favorite furry companion on the trip. Also, make sure your food is securely stored as many different critters (including bears) will go after all kinds of food when given the opportunity. Most campsites will have heavy duty food lockers to keep bears from becoming overly interested in breaking into your RV and if you want to be extra safe, steel bear proof storage containers are available that you can store in or on your RV.7 Double check the regulations surrounding glass, alcohol and fireworks and check to see if there is a designated dump site for your waste tank. As always, obey the law.3
With the unique ability to go long distances comfortably and stop at beautiful campsites in so many scenic locations, RVs can be a fascinating way to explore the country. As long as you’re aware of the different rules and regulations that are required of RV drivers and passengers and do some planning before you start your trip, it should be a fun and relaxing experience. If you’re planning an RV trip and want to learn more about how Synchrony Car CareTM can help, you can learn more here.
- RV LAWS TO CONSIDER | RV PARKING, STORAGE & TRAFFIC LAWS KOABlog
- RV Rules, Regulations, and Road Restrictions Camping World
- Rules of The Road: 7 Rules and Regulations RV-ers Need to Know RV Advisor
- 6 RV Laws That Differ by State Corpus Christi
- Road Rules: RV Traffic Laws Mobile RVing
- Wearing Seatbelts in Motorhomes: the Laws For All 50 States Camper Report
- Can Bears Break Into an RV? Camper Report
- What are safety chains and why do I need them for my trailer? Carry-On Trailer
- Why is your RV breakaway switch so important? Stones RV
- How to find a safe place to park your RV for the night Roadtrippers
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