I'm investigating changing to a 5th wheel RV - that's the kind of travel trailer that you tow behind a pickup. In such a setup, there is no access from the driver in the truck to the living space being pulled behind.

My wife is under the impression that in such a setup, the kids are not allowed to be in the RV while the setup is in motion. I am aware of no such rule. When I asked an RV salesman, he said as long as there is an uninterruptible communications mechanism (e.g. walkie talkies - but not a cell phone), it's legal. That said, he was trying to sell me a 5th wheel, so I took what he said with a pinch of salt.

Here's the question then - Generally speaking, is it permissible for people to occupy the 5th wheel, while the thing is in motion? And, is the answer different if my wife is in back with the kids? In other words, is it okay for my wife to ride with me, and have the kids be alone (they are actually rather responsible for 10 and 7), or would that be negligence?

  • Well to answer your question can your kids ride in the back of a fifth wheel. Look at your state! I know my states in the pacific nw all are legal to ride if you have two way radio, safety glass in windows and an exit. We have a 39ft fifth wheel and have two kids that get car sick. We have done it! One on potty to boot even! Lol. Is it the safest probably not but its an option. – user7992 Aug 17 '13 at 5:23

Like so many things in the USA, this varies state by state. In most states, no-one may be in the back - not a responsible adult, and not a child either. The concerns are that there are no seatbelts, that the trailer might flip during an accident, and that there is no way for the people in the trailer to know that you are about to swerve or break hard - not even a panicky swear word which is all most people manage to say when an accident starts. It's not realistic to think you would get on the walkie talkie to say "hang on!" when someone cuts you off and you have to stand on the brakes.

That said, some states allow it. Here's a quote from the California rules that I found on on an RV Forum:

Here is what the California Vehicle Code Section 21712 says about that:

(g) A person shall not drive a motor vehicle that is towing a trailer coach, camp trailer, or trailer carrying a vessel, containing a passenger, except when a trailer carrying or designed to carry a vessel is engaged in the launching or recovery of the vessel.


(i) Subdivision (g) does not apply to a trailer coach that is towed with a fifth-wheel device if the trailer coach is equipped with safety glazing materials wherever glazing materials are used in windows or doors, with an audible or visual signaling device that a passenger inside the trailer coach can use to gain the attention of the motor vehicle driver, and with at least one unobstructed exit capable of being opened from both the interior and exterior of the trailer coach.

That thread includes plenty of passionate arguments why being in the back is horrible, along with people saying it's just the same as moving around in a large bus. I don't think it is the same, because of suspension differences and because the 5th wheel can flip under circumstances that would not flip a bus, but I have never been in a moving 5th wheel and I have been in a moving all-in-one.

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