Do Children Need to Be in a Car Seat When Traveling in an RV?

car seat in RV

In passenger vehicles, children are required to be harnessed into a car seat rated for the child’s age, height, and weight. But what about motorized RVs? Should children be buckled into a car seat in a rig?

The short answer: Yes, if you want to properly ensure your child’s safety. However, some states exempt RVs from car seat laws and in those states, it’s your choice whether kids are restrained in a car seat or not. On the other hand, some states require all occupants of all vehicles to be belted, so be sure to check the laws in your state and any states you’ll be driving through.

The Case for Car Seats

Regardless of the laws in each state, if you have small children, it is best to properly restrain them in a car seat in a front-facing seat with a crash-rated seat belt when traveling. Here’s why:

For one, RVs come in many different classes and types, and while it can be easy to think that any rig will be able to withstand crashes better than say, a passenger vehicle, simply because of its size, that way of thinking offers false security. RVs are not necessarily as structurally sound as you might believe. They are not required to be built to the same strict structural standards as a school bus, for example.

Secondly, while seatbelts are often located in the living area of an RV, the anchorages for these belts are not required to meet federal safety standards. Some are attached to wood interior framing rather than bolted to the metal frame of the vehicle, making the belts less effective at restraining someone in the event of a crash. 

This can make it difficult to find a way to properly secure children when traveling. But it can be done!

What to Consider

Here are some options that will ensure your child’s safety when traveling in an RV:

  • Buy or rent a travel trailer instead of an RV. With a TT, you’ll have tow it with a passenger vehicle, which is built with passenger safety standards in mind.
  • Buy or rent a Class B or C RV, which are built on regular van and truck chassis and meet the federal safety standards like a van or truck normally would. These types of RVs may be more likely to have the features needed for proper car seat installation, in both the cab and interior of the RV.
  • If you opt for a motorhome or all-in-one type of rig, and typically tow a second vehicle behind you, consider having another adult drive the car separately with any children so car seats can be used.

Have you used car seats in an RV before? What methods did you use to ensure proper installation? Let us know in the comments or contact us today!

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