How Wide Can Your RV Legally Be?
Travel trailers are recognized as some of the largest vehicles on the road. The RV body width is key to comfort while traveling and camping. But, did you know that many wide body RVs are actually too large to be legally driven on state controlled roads? Interstate RV driving is both safe and legal, but off of the interstate it’s possible to run into some trouble.
102 inches, or 8½ feet, is a standard size for class A motorhomes and large luxury RV units. What is lesser known is that there are several states across the United States that cap the vehicle size limit at 8½ feet. In fact, a few states even have a maximum width of 8 feet. 8½ feet is the maximum width limit in the following states:
- North Carolina
- West Virginia
So, when operating a vehicle that is 8½ feet or larger you technically need an oversized load permit when driving in these states. Ticketing for an oversized travel trailer is unlikely but it certainly is both possible and legal. Although you likely won’t get a ticket for RV dimensions, practice caution in states with smaller maximum width restrictions. In these states, the roads were not designed to accommodate vehicles of your size. Though it seems shortsighted for RV manufacturers to sell travel trailers with illegal dimensions, there is a reason behind the mix up.
Several years ago, the U.S. Department of Transportation decided to increase the vehicle width limitations on interstates, which are federally controlled roads, from 8 feet to 8½ feet. This change was intended to increase trade between states due to the fact that interstate highways are larger and can handle the larger vehicles.
So, smaller width restrictions on interstate roads just reduced trade flows but did not have any positive impact on traffic issues. RV wholesalers and travel trailer companies used this as reasoning to increase the size of their vehicles without taking into consideration that many states still had the same reduced restrictions on their standard roads
Learn more about safe RV driving with our blog on why you should know your RV height and clearance level