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If you have ever planned to camp, you have definitely thought of renting an RV. While it is big and spacious, it also solves the problem of a safe place to spend the night.

But the biggest issue that people tend to overlook is their safety! Stats reveal that about 85% of people do use seat belts. The rest 15% conveniently give it a miss.

RV seat beltsAnother stat reveals that in 2012, 75K people were involved in RV accidents. The reasons for such a high number of casualties are mainly because of the following facts:

  • The drivers are usually under 21 years of age or over 55 years of age. The underage drivers’ rash drive. The aged drivers have poor vision and impaired motor functions.
  • People tend to overload their RV in the back. This messes with its center of gravity. The imbalance created leads to the tumbling of the vehicle.
  • The large body of the vehicle fails to maintain balance in case of sharp turns. 

If you are planning to get an RV this holiday, always rent an RV from a known agency with good reviews. You can use the RV rentals recommended by stayontrails.com as the guide. 

Before planning an RV holiday, do pay attention to some aspects discussed here:

Why you should wear a seat-belt?

RVs are notorious for being weight imbalanced and unsafe. They have a large body with zero protection gear for those sitting in the rear seats. They are actually benches and lateral seats that do not respond well in case of a collision. The whole body of an RV is not streamlined to reduce the collision impact. 

Especially the rear seat is prone to large scale damages. Some models do have a seat belt that is attached to the floor, but what about the fall of electrical appliances on the occupants. There are reported incidents of passengers in the rear seat getting critically injured when a collision led to electrical fittings falling on them. Even in case of a sudden brake, they may fall off and injure the passengers.

Seat belts are provided only for front seats. The manufacturers are only required to put seat belts. RVs are seldom tested for crash endurance. A lap belt is never enough. And the sideway seats make the occupants prone to free fall. To ensure the safety of the passengers, the driver should definitely wear a seat belt. It will ensure minimum casualties to the driver and the fellow passenger. Also, it is a rule for all the drivers to wear the seat belt. So, if you don’t want to get ticketed, wear it!

States where the front seat occupants have to wear seat belts

21 US states have rules that require all occupants to wear seat belts. It does not matter if you have the rented RV, every occupant must be in the seat belts. The list of states is as follows:

  1. Washington
  2. Massachusetts
  3. Idaho
  4. Georgia
  5. D.C.
  6. Alaska
  7. Colorado
  8. California
  9. Iowa
  10. Kentucky
  11. Delaware
  12. South Carolina
  13. Utah
  14. Vermont
  15. New Mexico
  16. Oregon
  17. Maine
  18. Rhode island
  19. Wyoming
  20. New Hampshire
  21. Montana

As these require even the children to have seat belts, you need to make special arrangements for them. 

Here are some suggestions:

  • Get lateral seats installed. It may not be possible with the rentals but if you own, then do it.
  • If you have children traveling with you, make provisions for sturdy seats with fitted seat belts.
  • You can hire a car to carry the kids and pregnant women alongside the RV.

States where seat belts are not necessary

There are 28 states that require only the front row occupants to have seat belts. Some of the states are New York, Ohio, Arizona, Connecticut, and Texas. 

State laws for children

Every state has separate rules for children in the RV too. There are age restrictions, and seat belt guidelines. For example, while driving through Florida, children in the age group 6 to 17 need to properly restrained. You should have a comprehensive list of these regulations from the official website of the department before heading out.

Pain points in RV

A road journey in an RV is a dream that comes true for almost everyone. But people think that the large size of RV means extra safety. This is completely false. The body of an RV is a combination of metal front and wooden extension. In case of an accident, the rear part often disintegrates from the front part. The weight distribution is also not uniform. The sides have open window panes that are weak. The upper part is often stacked with ACs and kitchen appliances. In some high-end RVs, the end part is flexible to double up as a kind of veranda when parked.

Suggested precautions

If you are thinking of renting an RV, do take these measures:

    1. Do not drive an RV unless you are 21 years of age.
    2. Check about the driving rules through your route.
    3. Every renting agency has a different set of rules. Many need a deposit for young drivers.
    4. Be sure to have the driving license. If you are a tourist, it is better to have an international driving license.
    5. Modify your seats for children. If the RV does not provide it, go for a separate rented car. It is better to not take risks.
    6. Have a handbook of federal driving rules with you. Also, keep an updated copy of fine amounts.
    7. Don’t take off your seat belt. 
    8. Avoid renting an old RV. They do not come with seat belts or provisions for them. Also, the weakened body is susceptible to damages on the road.

Conclusion

If you are looking for a one-word answer, then, yes. You should definitely wear a seat belt when renting an RV. This will ensure maximum safety to all the occupants inside it. Special care should be taken for children. You may need to modify the interiors for maximum safety. Sturdy seats with good seat belts are the key to a safe drive. Also, it will save you from getting ticketed! Happy driving!