Q: I have heard that it is illegal for passengers to ride in a fifth 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 fifth wheel campers running up and down our highways. Are there any laws applying to the transport of passengers in fifth 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 fifth 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 fifth 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 fifth 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 fifth 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.