Utility in Motion: What Can Be Used While Driving A Motorhome?

Driving A Motorhome, What Can You Use?

Traveling in a motorhome allows you to live more comfortably while on the road. However, for safety and legal reasons, you may wonder what parts of your motorhome you can use while driving.

Most amenities in a motorhome can be used both while the unit is stationary and while it is moving. However, it is not always legal to use all of the amenities while the motorhome is in motion. In addition to legality, there are a few safety concerns that arise when using the amenities in a motorhome while driving.

Do you want to learn more about what you can use in your RV? Continue reading to find out what is actually legal to use while driving a motorhome and to learn more about the safety issues that may arise as you travel!

Florida RV Retirement Communities

Motion-Activated Amenities

One of the main reasons people buy motorhomes is that they provide food, a bathroom, and a place to relax all in one convenient space on the road. However, as previously stated, there are some concerns about what is safe and legal to use while traveling in your motorhome.

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Before we get into the safety and legalities of driving, let’s take a look at what you can physically use while driving.

Surprisingly, almost all of the amenities in your motorhome are accessible and usable while driving. There is no switch that flips once the motorhome is in motion, allowing passengers to access everything while traveling.

The bathroom, beds, air conditioner, generator, and convection microwave are the most commonly used amenities while driving a motorhome.

You should NEVER use any of the slide-outs while the motorhome is in motion. Do not extend the slide-out if you are simply looking for an extra inch of space while traveling.

Motorhomes, like other vehicles, are aerodynamically designed, and opening the slide-out will disrupt the aerodynamic balance. Not to mention that opening the slide-out puts you and all of the other passengers in the motorhome at risk because the slide is not designed to withstand air forces during travel.

There are a few things to consider if you want to cook in your motorhome while driving. These may include what kind of cooking amenities your motorhome has, how the road ahead of you looks, and, finally, is it really worth it?

Let’s start with what could happen if you don’t plan ahead of time and put some soup in the microwave or on the stove. To begin with, cooking on the stove requires you to remain standing throughout the entire cooking process. This increases your chances of being seriously injured in the event of a collision. In the first scenario, if you make a sharp turn, your soup is likely to spill, causing a disaster in your motorhome!

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This brings us to our final point: is it really worth it to use the amenities while traveling? Cooking in the motorhome can result in a huge mess and increases the risk of putting you in danger. Before you decide to cook a meal in your RV, consider whether the convenience is worth the potential trouble.

Do you still want to try cooking a meal in your RV while driving? Check out this video of someone cooking on the road!

The bathroom is possibly the most frequently used amenity in a motorhome while on the road. Finally, there is no need to stop for a bathroom break, which adds time to your overall journey.

Because the electrical systems will remain operational, you can even use the water pump in your motorhome while driving.

Do you want to learn more about using the motorhome bathroom while on the road? Click here to read my article about RV Bathrooms In Motion!

The air conditioner is the final amenity that most people hope to have in their motorhome. The air conditioners in the motorhome’s cockpit are not usually powerful enough to cool the entire vehicle. As a result, on a hot day, it becomes critical to find a cooling solution.

Fortunately, you can use the air conditioner in the motorhome while driving! The only disadvantage of running the air conditioner is that it requires more amps to operate. This means that the motorhome’s batteries will be unable to support the air conditioner on their own, and the generator will be required to power the vehicle.

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A built-in generator is standard on many motorhomes. This type of generator can be used while driving and is powerful enough to power the air conditioner while the motorhome is moving. However, in some states or areas, there may be restrictions on the types of motorhomes that can be operated while driving.

Read on to find out more about what you can and cannot use in your motorhome!

What Can You Do While Driving?

As I mentioned in the previous section, some amenities, such as the generator, can be used while the motorhome is in motion; however, there are some laws that prohibit you from using certain amenities.

When and where are there requirements for running your motorhome’s generator? Many states and municipalities, for example, have noise and exhaust regulations.

The chart below shows which states have regulations regarding the maximum noise level and any exhaust system regulations!

State Motor Vehicle GVWR Maximum General Noise Level Exhaust System
California All 80 dbA Exhaust shall not be directed to the side of the motor vehicle between 2′ and 11′ above the ground
Colorado >5,999 lbs. 86 dbA
Connecticut >10,000 lbs.

<9,999 lbs.

Soft Site:
72 dbA @ <35mph
79 dbA @ >35mph
Hard Site:
74 dbA @ <35mph
81 dbA@ >35mphSoft Site:
80 dbA@ <35mph
90 dbA@ >35mph
Hard Site:
88 dbA@ <35mph
92 dbA@>35mph
Exhaust must be directed at the rear of the vehicle
Florida >10,000 lbs. 83 dbA
Georgia Exhaust should be directed beyond the rear and out of the passenger cabin
Illinois <8,001 lbs

>8,000 lbs

74 dbA@ <35mph
82 dbA@ >35mph86 dbA@ <35mph
90 dbA@ >35mph
Maryland All 80 dbA
Massachusetts Exhaust must be released beyond the vehicle
Michigan <8,500 lbs

>8,499 lbs

80 dbA

83 dbA

Minnesota >10,000 lbs 86 dbA@ <34mph
96 dbA@ >35mph
Nebraska >10,000 lbs 86 dbA@ >35mph
90 dbA@ <36
80 dbA
Nevada <6,000 lbs

>5,999 lbs

84 dbA

86 dbA

New York <10,000 lbs

>9,999 lbs

76 dbA@ <35mph
82 dbA@ >35mph86 dbA@ <35mph
90 dbA@ >35mph
Oregon All 80 dbA
Pennsylvania <6,000 lbs

>5,999 lbs

Soft Site:
76 dbA@ <34mph
82 dbA@ >35mph
Hard Site:
78 dbA@ <36mph
84 dbA@ >35mphSoft Site:
86 dbA@ <36mph
90 dbA@ >35mph
Hard Site:
88 dbA@ <34mph
92 dbA@ >35mph
Rhode Island All 86 dbA@ <36mph
90 dbA@ >35mph
Vermont Exhaust must be discharged at the rear of the vehicle
Washington <9,999 lbs

>10,000 lbs

72 dbA@ <46mph
78 dbA@ >45mph
District of Columbia All 80 dbA

Content credit of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).

As we can see, there may be a different law governing your use of a generator while driving depending on the state you are traveling in. Before embarking on your next adventure, compare the noise level of your generator!

The next major issue with using amenities in your motorhome while driving is state seatbelt laws. Some states allow passengers to move around the vehicle while driving, while others do not.

While the motorhome is moving, 21 states require all passengers to wear seatbelts. This means that you are unable to use any amenities in these 21 states while the motorhome is in motion (yes, this includes the bathroom).

Read these articles from the RVIA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to learn more about each state’s seatbelt laws (CDC).

Remember, if you’re traveling in a state where the laws allow you to move around the motorhome while it’s moving, you should think about whether it’s safe to do so.

Concerns about safety

This brings us neatly to our final point about what you can—or should—use on your motorhome while driving.

When we talked about cooking in the motorhome while traveling, I mentioned that you should think about what powers your cooking utilities.

Why would I have asked you that?

Although using electricity in your motorhome while driving does not pose a significant risk, other power sources, such as propane, can result in a very dangerous situation.

You should never use the propane in your motorhome while driving. If the vehicle was in a minor accident and a propane line broke, the motorhome could catch fire. Make the wiser decision and never turn on the propane while the motorhome is in motion.

While in motion, you should not sit anywhere in the motorhome that does not have a seatbelt. These areas have been strengthened to keep passengers safe. Any other area is not built to withstand a collision.

Motorhomes, like other vehicles, are designed to be stronger in some areas and weaker in others to protect the passengers being transported inside. The difference between a motorhome and a vehicle, however, is that motorhomes do not have a set of standards that their models must meet in order to be labeled “crash-safe.”

In fact, you might be surprised at how frequently airbags are installed inside a motorhome. Learn more about motorhome airbags by reading this article!

Even the areas designed to keep passengers safe in a motorhome are weaker than those in other vehicles, which may surprise you. This means that you should stay seated and belted for the duration of the trip to be as safe as possible.

Standing, walking, or even laying down in an area not designated for passenger travel could endanger you and others. In the event of a collision, who knows where the unexpected force might send you: onto a hot stove, off the toilet, or into another passenger. Wait until the motorhome has completely stopped before moving around to keep yourself and others safe.

We’ve already discussed the legal significance of seatbelts, so let’s take a moment to consider the safety of remaining secure in a seatbelt while traveling in a motorhome.

Why is it critical that we wear our seatbelts?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 23,174 people died in motor vehicle accidents in 2016. In 2016, over 2.6 million people were injured in car accidents, emphasizing the importance of wearing a seatbelt even more.

You may be wondering how wearing a seatbelt will prevent me from being involved in a car accident. Finally, wearing a seatbelt will not keep you from being in a car accident. Wearing your seat belt, on the other hand, can reduce your injuries and keep you safe in the event of a crash.

Don’t believe me when I say that wearing a seatbelt is the best preventive measure for car accidents? The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated that the use of a seatbelt saved nearly 15,000 lives in 2017. According to the NHTSA, nearly another 3,000 lives could have been saved if they had been wearing seatbelts.

 

“Seat belt use is one of the most effective ways to save lives and reduce injuries in crashes. Yet millions do not buckle up on every trip.”

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

 

While it may not be convenient to always wear your seatbelt, it may just save your life and the lives of others if you do. Before your next trip, make sure everyone has a seatbelt that fits properly and remind everyone to stay seated and secure while the motorhome is in motion.

If you are traveling with small children, they may require a separate car seat to keep them safe. However, there may be nowhere in the motorhome where they can safely attach their seat. Keep your children safe by driving them in a separate vehicle and properly strapping them in.

To remind everyone, it is illegal (and dangerous) in all states to keep passengers in a pull behind travel trailer or fifth wheel. RVIA.org has information on each state’s laws for riding in a towed RV.

Conclusion

All features of a motorhome are accessible even while the vehicle is in motion. However, just because you can use the amenities in your motorhome does not mean you can use them while the motorhome is in motion.

Furthermore, while it may be legal to use certain amenities, this does not guarantee that doing so is safe while the motorhome is on the road. Choose to keep yourself and all other passengers safe by remaining securely seatbelted throughout your journey.

A motorhome offers numerous advantages when traveling. Having a bathroom, kitchen, bedroom, and living room available at all times can be extremely beneficial and time-saving. However, one should simply enjoy the fact that all of those amenities are available AFTER arriving at their final destination.

 


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