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RV Seat Belt Laws: Who Needs to Buckle Up?

| Updated Apr 26, 2024

If the question asked who “should” buckle up, the safest answer would be everyone. However, RV seat belt laws vary by state…

The topic of RV seat belt laws comes up quite a bit in our RV Lifestyle Facebook group and in the RV community in general. It’s a somewhat controversial topic since some RVers are satisfied following local laws while others insist seat belts should be worn at all times.

We want to address both sides in this article by discussing the state laws and safety concerns. In states that allow RVers to be unbuckled in certain situations, the decision will ultimately be yours. Although, it is always highly recommended that everyone buckles up.

The laws vary quite a bit based on where the passengers are sitting, the age of the passengers, and a few other factors. So, buckle up for a lot of information!

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Our Little Disclaimer

RV Seat Belt Laws: Who Needs to Buckle Up?

Our intention for this article is to inform RVers as best as possible so they can stay safe (and legal) on the road. Please note that state driving laws change more often than you might think, and we sometimes simply get things wrong. 

So, it’s always best to double-check the RV seat belt laws of the state you’re visiting by going directly to their state transportation website. Their website will have the most accurate, up-to-date information.

ALSO! There are individual state laws regarding riding in towable RVs that go hand-in-hand with seat belt laws. We will address the legality of riding in a towable at the end of the article. If allowed, the following seat belt laws still apply!

EVERY State Requires Seat Belts in the Cab of the RV

Anyone who rides in the front of an RV is required to wear a seat belt in every state. These front seats are designed similarly to passenger vehicles with seat belts, and states thus require them to be used as such.

If you’re pulling your RV with a tow vehicle, the tow vehicle is still classified as a passenger vehicle. That means you must abide by standard seat belt laws, which require all occupants to buckle up.

There is only one exception…

The Only Exception

New Hampshire is the only exception when it comes to seat belt laws for adult occupants in RVs and passenger vehicles. Adults 18 years and older are not legally required to wear seat belts, even if they are in the cab. 

But kids under the age of 18 still must be properly restrained in New Hampshire!

New Hampshire law “requires any child under the age of eighteen riding as a passenger in a motor vehicle be secured by either a seat belt or a child safety seat and that any child under the age of seven be secured by an approved child restraint (RSA 265:107-a).”


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RV Seat Belt Laws: Who Needs to Buckle Up? 1
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States Where EVERYONE Must Wear Seat Belts in an RV

As we just explained, everyone in the front seats is required to wear seat belts in every state. However, the RV seat belt laws vary for people riding in the back of an RV. We gathered this information primarily from the GHSA interactive map and Cruise America.

The following list are states that require every occupant to wear seat belts regardless of age or where they’re riding in an RV:

  • Alaska
  • California
  • Delaware
  • Georgia 
  • Hawaii
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • Washington D.C. 
  • Wyoming

States With Age & Misc. Seat Belt Laws for Back of RV

RV Seat Belt Laws: Who Needs to Buckle Up?

While the above states require seat belts for everyone, the following states have specific regulations. Most of these regulations depend on the age of children under 18 years old.

All front occupants are still required to wear seat belts. The following are the states with seat belt requirements for certain passengers riding in the back of an RV.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Seat belts cannot be used in lieu of car seats as required by state law! Every state has car seat and booster seat laws that must be followed in RVs as well as passenger vehicles. 

The following are required to wear seat belts in an RV:

  • Arizona (under 16 years old)
  • Connecticut (under 17)
  • Florida (under 18)
  • Idaho (all occupants in vehicles less than 8,000 lbs.)
  • Illinois (under 16)
  • Kansas (under 15)
  • Louisiana (under 13)
  • Michigan (under 16)
  • Minnesota (under 11)
  • Mississippi (under 11)
  • Missouri (under 16)
  • Nebraska (under 18)
  • New Hampshire (under 18)
  • New Jersey (under 18)
  • New York (under 16)
  • North Carolina (under 16)
  • North Dakota (under 18)
  • Oklahoma (under 13)
  • Pennsylvania (under 18)
  • South Dakota (under 18)
  • Tennessee (under 17)
  • Texas (under 18)
  • Virginia (under 17)
  • West Virginia (under 18)
  • Wisconsin (under 16)

What are the RV Seat Belt Laws in Canada?

All 10 Canadian provinces require all vehicle occupants to wear seat belts, whether it’s an RV or a passenger car. That means all RV occupants must be buckled when traveling through Canada, regardless of their age and where they’re sitting in the RV.

Life-Saving Reasons to Wear Your Seat Belt in an RV

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Have you ever witnessed an RV accident? If you have, you’ll know RVs tend to break apart, with entire walls and chunks flying off. The back of RVs DO NOT have the same structural strength as passenger vehicles.

Now, imagine riding in the back of your RV and getting into an accident, with walls splintering and entire pieces of your RV flying off. In that moment, will you wish you were wearing a seat belt? Will you wish your children were wearing a seat belt?

The answer to those questions should give you your answer as to whether or not you (not the law) should require seat belts in your RV.

No matter how unlikely you are to get into an accident, it only takes one accident to change your life (or take it).

In some states, the risk is ultimately up to you. So, you must ask yourself, what are you willing to risk for comfort? 

Is It Legal to Ride in a 5th Wheel? (Is It Safe?!)

Is It Legal to Ride in a 5th Wheel

It is legal to ride in a 5th wheel or travel trailer in SOME states, but even some that allow it have certain restrictions. So, it’s important to know state laws. 

In this article, we review the state laws and teh safety concerns regarding riding in a towable RV. Keep reading…

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Mike Wendland

Published on 2023-05-29

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

2 Responses to “RV Seat Belt Laws: Who Needs to Buckle Up?”

May 29, 2023at11:58 am, Doyle Stewart said:

Thanks for the information. This is an interesting article and a good reminder that laws vary (for more t

There is one bit of confusion: New Hampshire is listed as “the one exception” requiring seatbelts and is also listed as one of the state requiring seatbelts regardless of age or location. Is the latter listing a typo?

DK Stewart

Reply

May 30, 2023at2:00 pm, Team RV Lifestyle said:

Thank you for bringing this to our attention – we just fixed the story – hope it is now more clear – thanks again! Team RV Lifestyle

Reply

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