Q: I have heard that it is illegal for passengers to ride in a 5th wheel camper while it is being towed down the road. Is this correct?
A: Camping season is well underway, and you don't have to look too hard to find 5th wheel campers running up and down our highways. Are there any laws applying to the transport of passengers in 5th wheels? The answer lies in the fact that 'legal' may not always be the 'best practice'.
By the book, there are no specific regulations prohibiting passengers from riding in a 5th wheel while it is being towed, except for children. Children under age 18 are all required to be restrained properly in a seatbelt, booster seat, or child restraint according to their age. I still see children being transported in the bed of pick-up trucks, even though this law changed several years back. This practice is now illegal for children under 18, as would be transporting children in a 5th wheel camper.
Now let's address the 'best practice' aspect. Even though Iowa law would allow passengers over age 18 to legally ride in the back of a towed 5th wheel camper, it is not the safest mode of transport. Statistics continue to support the use of SEATBELTS as the best way to prevent serious injury or death in a traffic crash. Iowa's law does not require passengers over 18 to be buckled in the back seat (or in a 5th wheel) but the best practice is always to be buckled, regardless of seating position.
When heading to that camping trip this summer, don't let 'legal' put you and your family in added danger on our highways.
"Ask a Trooper" is a reader-directed, bi-monthly publication that appears in 29 newspapers across western Iowa. Submit your question to your local editor, or directly to Trooper Kurtz at Kurtz@dps.state.ia.us.