Is It Legal to Travel in a Moving Caravan?

Is It Legal to Travel in a Moving Caravan?

Share It!

We’ve all seen the American RV movies where the passenger gets up to make a sandwich for lunch, while the driver is still trundling the vehicle down the road.

So, chilling inside the caravan while you’re travelling isn’t all that different, right?

You couldn’t be any more wrong!

Not only is it illegal to sleep or travel in a moving caravan, it’s extremely dangerous! Here are the main reasons why no one should ever be inside a moving caravan – and that goes for pets too.

We are a participant in affiliate advertising programs designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to ebay.com and other affiliated sites. We may earn a commission from your purchases at no extra cost to you. For more information, see our disclosures here.

Travelling in a Moving Caravan

Lightning Ridge, NSW

What Does the Law Say About Travelling in a Moving Caravan?

The legalities around travelling inside a moving caravan are simple and concise, with no room for misinterpretation.

Here’s what some of the state governing bodies around Australia say…

“People must not ride in trailers/ caravans.”

QLD Government

“You must not have any person travelling in a trailer or caravan you’re towing.”

NSW Government

“No one can travel inside the caravan.”

VIC Roads

It is illegal to travel in a moving caravan in Australia and extremely unsafe to do so. All passengers (including the driver), must be sitting upright inside the tow vehicle with seat belts firmly in place.

If your towing set-up is involved in an accident, the least safe place for any human or animal to be is in the caravan.

Let’s take a look at the practical reasons why travelling inside a caravan is a big no-no.

9 more Caravan Towing Laws →

Lack of Passenger Safety

Nissan Patrol (car)
All passengers must be sitting upright with seatbelts on

Caravans are not built for passenger safety, they are built for being towed behind a vehicle.

Caravan manufacturers and trailer engineers put a lot of resources into ensuring the caravan has the best suspension, braking systems and weight ratios for being towed. However, they do not put any thought into the safety of passengers riding inside the caravan, because that’s not what they’re intended for.

On the other hand, cars are always designed with passenger safety in mind.

Every year, millions of dollars go into research and development around keeping people and pets safe inside their vehicles. Cars are specifically designed to absorb the impact as much as possible, in order to protect the passengers. On top of that, seatbelts and airbags help to secure and cushion the passengers in the case of an accident.

This is one of the biggest reasons why it is illegal for passengers to travel in a moving caravan.

Towing Speed Limits for All States →


Projectiles

Jayco Caravan Interior
Anything that hasn’t been secured becomes a projectile

The next reason why it’s illegal to travel in a moving caravan is due to the potential projectiles inside the van.

Although we all do our best to lock and pack everything away into cupboards and drawers, it’s inevitable that there is the odd occasion when something is forgotten.

Not only that, you yourself could easily become a human projectile hurtling from the bed up the front of the van to the bathroom at the back of the van, should the brakes need to be hit in a hurry.

Imagine the force and pressure behind either something flying towards you in the caravan or you being thrown around when moving forward at 100 kilometres per hour to coming to a grinding halt in a matter of seconds.

The consequences don’t even bear thinking about.


Caravan Sway

Towing Mirror
Caravans often sway and move around behind the tow vehicle

Another point against allowing anyone to sleep or travel inside a caravan while it’s being towed is due to the dreaded caravan sway.

This “snaking” that occurs is called ‘Yaw Inertia.’

Yaw Inertia:

When the two farthest points from the pivotal point (axles) on the caravan can increase in movement, causing ‘caravan sway.’ When that happens, it tends to increase in oscillation (the back-and-forth rhythm) rather than being pulled into line by the force of the towing vehicle.

Once caravan sway begins to pick up, the driver only has a limited amount of time to react correctly before the swaying increases and escalates out of control.

How to React to Caravan Sway:

  • Do Not Hit the Brakes – Heavy braking through the tow vehicle will cause a sudden change in movement
  • Steer as Little as Possible – Sudden movements will make things worse
  • Reduce Acceleration or Maintain Speed – Maintain your speed or naturally allow the vehicle to slow down
  • Gently Apply the Caravan Brakes – Manually and gradually apply the caravan electric brakes
  • If Going Uphill – Gently accelerate until snaking stops, then slow down and continue at a slower speed
  • If Going Downhill – Use the electric trailer brakes to slow the caravan down (not the car brakes)

Whether the car or driver is able to stop the caravan from swaying or not, actually being inside the caravan during a sway event would be terrifying. It’s nerve-wracking enough when you’re strapped into the tow vehicle and can feel what’s happening behind you.

6 Tips to Prevent Caravan Sway →

Flimsy Construction

Caravan Repairs
Caravan walls are extremely thin!

The final, but by no means least important reason why it’s illegal to travel in a moving caravan is due to the construction of the caravan itself.

If you’ve ever had the unfortunate opportunity to see a caravan crash or roll, even on a video, you’ll forever have the visual in your head of how flimsy they are.

With the walls being ripped open like tin cans and debris flying everywhere, a passenger inside the caravan does not stand a chance at walking away unharmed (or even surviving).

In the image above, you can see just how paper-thin caravan walls are. It’s essentially a frame with a bit of insulation covered by some board and tin. This was taken when our caravan was in getting some major repairs done due to a water leak in the roof.

Compare the thickness of a caravan wall to that of a solid metal car. I know which one I’d rather be sitting in during an accident.

When it comes to loading a caravan for the safest towing experience, check out the article below.

How to Load Your Caravan for Towing →

Caravan Packing List

Caravan Packing List

Never forget a thing with the ULTIMATE Caravan Packing List!

  • Pre-filled with 600+ items
  • 17 categories
  • ‘Weight’ column (to organise payload)
  • PRINTABLE – fully customisable
  • DIGITAL – completely interactive
  • Download once, use it over-and-over
Aus Line Break

Travel Planning Tools

Travel Checklists
Planners & Guides
Budget Spreadsheets

Pin It!

Is It Legal to Travel in a Moving Caravan? - PIN

Share It!

2 thoughts on “Is It Legal to Travel in a Moving Caravan?”

  1. G’day Emma, as you point out the dangers of cooking and travelling in the van whilst being towed is highlighted in the Lucille Ball’s and Dezi Arnez’s 1954 movie “The Long, Long Trailer.” It also shows the dangers of incorrectly loading and packing your van. Mind you after watching the movie you might be scared to towing a van. If you have not seen it, the movie it is worth watching have a laugh.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Privacy Preference Center

Necessary

Advertising

Analytics

Other

Scroll to Top