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The below is written by Denise Donaldson for Safe Ride News

Traveling in an RV with Children? 

Don’t forget Child Passenger Safety!

Often, even parents who normally are careful to use a car seat for their children for every ride imagine that the interior of a recreational vehicle (RV, or motor home) is somehow a magical zone where the laws of physics do not apply.  Caregivers need to know that an RV may not be safe for children.  Children still need to be buckled up appropriately any time they are riding in a vehicle, and this can be a real challenge in an RV.  RVs come in a range of style classes (A, B, C, C+, etc.) and, although these do vary in appropriateness for families, none is ideal.

People reason that bigger vehicles tend to withstand crash forces better, and this may lull some RVers into a false sense of security. However, bigger isn’t actually safer when it comes to RVs.  Unlike school buses, which must meet the strict structural standards of several FMVSSs, RVs are not subject to school bus standards, nor do many of the crashworthiness standards governing cars apply.  Because of this and design features that may include seams in the sides for things like galley slide-outs, an RV’s size may not translate to superior structural soundness.
In addition, although seat belts are sometimes present in the living areas, the anchorages for these are not required to comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 208. In some cases, the belts are just anchored to a piece of board (which would prove completely useless in a crash). Also, LATCH – both the lower anchors and the top tether anchors – are not required.

Parents also must know that car seats and boosters should never be installed on rearward- or side-facing vehicle seats, further limiting options.  And the problem of loose objects causing injury can be a greater concern aboard a traveling motel room.  Even “built-in” cabinets have been known to come loose due to the force of a crash.

The video below highlights many of the problems mentioned above: the bench was not structurally sound in a crash and the adult dummy flies to the front of the RV, there are loose parts from the cabinet & table flying around, etc.


An RV is Rarely Ideal for Transporting Children

Caregivers planning an RV trip should consider these safety tips:

  • Check the driving compartment for vehicle seats appropriate for installing a car seat or booster. Car seats and boosters MUST be installed on a forward-facing vehicle seat. The vehicle seat can not be side facing. All forward-facing car seats need to use a tether strap, which requires the vehicle to have a tether anchor. All booster seats require the child to wear a shoulder AND lap belt – the child can NOT sit with just a lap belt.
  • Unlike Class As, the smaller Class B and C RVs are built on a conventional truck/van chassis, so the cockpit shares the structural and safety features of those vehicles.
  • Consider using a trailer instead of an RV.  The car seat has a better chance of being properly installed in the conventional vehicle that is towing the trailer.
  • If you are towing a passenger vehicle behind the RV, as folks often do for local jaunts around destination areas, consider driving this vehicle separately instead and transporting children in it.
  • Make sure that EVERYONE stays buckled up while the RV is moving and that there is enough seating to properly accommodate this.