Is it legal to sleep in an RV while driving?

In this blog post, we will answer the following question: Is it legal to sleep in an RV while driving? We will discuss legal obligations for caravanners and give you a few essential tips to stay safe on the road. 

Is it legal to sleep in an RV while driving?

It is illegal to sleep in an RV while it is moving. Needless to say, everyone inside the RV must wear a seatbelt for the whole time on the road. You are allowed to use some facilities while driving, but you must make sure you are safe. 

Is it legal for children to sleep in an RV while driving?

It is therefore illegal for children or any other passenger to sleep in an RV while driving. The law states that anyone inside an RV must wear a seatbelt at all times while the vehicle is moving (day or night). 

This may seem unfair to you, but keep in mind that an accident can happen at any time, and you’d like your whole family to be safe for the ride. 

The complete book of rules to travel in safety with an RV or caravan

Very practical at the time of the holidays, the trailers and RVs allow you to transport all your belongings in a secure way. On arrival, the caravans even turn into accommodation for the whole family. 

Travelling with a vehicle that tows or carries this type of equipment is very simple and does not present any major risk … As long as you follow a few rules, some enacted by the Highway Code, and others out of common sense. To each, his own way invites you to take stock of the standards in force and the good habits to adopt!

Legal obligations for caravans and trailers

First and foremost, it is necessary to understand the concept of the weight of a caravan or trailer. There are three different denominations:

  • The kerb weight, which refers to the net weight of the vehicle without load.
  • The total permissible laden weight –  the payload and the maximum weight of the driver and his passengers
  • The authorized total rolling weight, that is to say, the maximum authorized weight for a set of vehicles (towing and towed).

When it comes to caravans and trailers, we are interested in the total authorized rolling weight. If it is less than 500 kg, the B license is sufficient, your car insurance also covers the trailer or caravan and you do not need to apply for a specific registration.

In the event that the GVWR is between 500 and 750 kg, the formalities only concern the registration of the vehicle. You will need to apply for a specific registration certificate, but you can drive with your B license and car insurance.

The case is complicated if the GVWR of the trailer or caravan exceeds 750 kg. We must then look at the permissible gross vehicle weight. If the latter amounts to 3.5 tonnes or less, you can use your usual permit, if it is higher than this figure, you must have the B+E permit. 

Whatever the case, you will also need specific insurance and a registration certificate for the trailer or caravan.

NB: For insurance questions, read your contract carefully and contact your agency before going on vacation. Only they can tell you that you are properly insured!

Requirements and tips for driving an RV

Travelling with an RV is a unique experience as it provides a fantastic feeling of freedom. But driving a car that pulls one of these houses on wheels is not trivial. 

Differences in the vehicle’s response to acceleration, braking and cornering speeds due to the extra weight and increased aerodynamic drag make it necessary to drive particularly cautiously.

Experts in these areas give some tips to make an RV vacation both safe and fun.

  1. Check the vehicle: before starting the trip, it is necessary to verify that the operating conditions of both the car and the motor home are optimal.

The tire pressure of the RV is the first point to check. Fuel, water supplies according to the number of passengers, radio and spare batteries are, among others, elements that cannot be lacking.

  1. If you are towing a caravan, level the weight between both vehicles: above all, it is important not to increase the weight in the trunk of the car, as this would cause the height to drop and, consequently, problems in coupling with the trailer. This will give you a balanced centre of gravity that makes cornering easier.
  1. Safety on the journey: during the journey, all passengers must use seat belts and not go in beds. People who get dizzy easily should ride in the front seats of the motorhome or car.
  1. Don’t forget to check the emergency equipment, such as the fire extinguisher, first aid kit, and signalling tools before leaving.
  1. Be careful when braking: the extra weight of the motorhome modifies the minimum distance that the car requires to brake safely. It is recommended to maintain a distance equal to three cars with respect to the vehicle in front. And in overtaking, it must be taken into account that more meters will be necessary to carry out the manoeuvre.
  1. Reverse gear, slopes and crosswind: these are three events to which you must pay the utmost attention. On a slope, you have to use the first track or the slow track so as not to obstruct traffic.

When descending slopes, try to maintain a constant speed and use the engine brake as much as possible (engaging). And as for the reverse gear, the suggestion is to practice it as much as possible before the trip. 

The most advisable thing is to try to follow the behaviour of the trailer: if you turn to the right the driver of the car should do the same.

Crosswinds are a big problem for vehicles that are very tall in relation to their width. To avoid accidents, the secret is to keep a low centre of gravity and distribute the weight proportionally between the two vehicles.

  1.  Use the apps: GPS applications or those that help to find the easiest route or services of interest, such as restaurants, medical centres, hotels or police, are a good ally when driving with a motor home safely.

Some tips for a safer road

Our first tip is simply common sense: check your vehicle’s loading and mounting systems before setting off. Use undamaged belts, tensioners and other types of fasteners, and change them as soon as you see signs of wear or shear marks.

Observe the manufacturers’ instructions and the rules on loading weight. A vehicle that is too heavy may be dragged more easily in the event of a gust of wind or emergency braking. Ensure your safety and that of other road users by taking into account the maximum load weight of your vehicle.

Drive safely! The behaviour of your loaded car may be slightly different from usual, especially with regard to braking times and acceleration.

The total authorized laden weight and the unladen weight of your vehicle are indicated in the user manual which was given to you upon purchase. You can also contact your vendor for this information.

Finally, don’t hesitate to contact your insurance if you have any questions. They can direct you to a contract that suits your vacation habits and offer you suitable cover.

Please let us know if we can be of any help!

FAQ on Is it legal to sleep in an RV while driving?

How many people can fit in an RV?

RVs can be better than a hotel. Depending on their size and style, you can find them with a bathroom, kitchen and space to accommodate a maximum of eight people or take your pet with you.

Can you travel in the back of a motorhome without seatbelts?

The answer is no, you can’t travel in the back of a motorhome without seatbelts as long as the vehicle is moving. Even though you may not consider it dangerous, the law obliges you to wear the seatbelt even as a passenger in the back of an RV. 

Can you drink in an RV?

You can drink in an RV as long as you are not the driver, do not plan on driving the RV, and you are parked at a campsite. Needless to say, it is illegal and a criminal offence to drink and drive. It is legal to drink behind the driver as long as no containers, empty or not, are within reach of the driver.

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