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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Ride 'em in the Back of Your Camper?

In an RV users' forum, a member mentioned he carried children in his truck camper. This set off a firestorm of commentary regarding the safety of carrying passengers in truck mounted campers. Most readers were pretty adamant about the subject, on one side or the other. Viewpoints exchanged ran the gamut of "protecting the lives of children," to avoiding the scourge of "allowing Big Brother to dictate our every move."

One interesting point made was more visual than loquacious--and it spoke volumes:

We can really muddy up the discussion by bringing in pertinent state law. Among the comments posted by forum goers were two different web sites, each purporting to answer the question: "Is it legal" on a state-by-state basis. The results weren't particularly satisfactory. One site indicated most states didn't specifically comment on the issue; the other said "Yes" it was OK to ride in a truck camper--perhaps not commenting means OK.

We asked our consulting Arizona DPS officer his opinion. Would he cite a truck camper user for allowing children to ride in the back of a truck camper? He initially said yes, and cited a relevant Arizona statute. But on closer examination, we found the statute specifically exempted "recreational vehicles" from the mandatory child seatbelt law, and by the state's own definition, truck campers are indeed, recreational vehicles.

But let's get down to brass tacks: Just how smart is it to carry any passenger, child or adult, in a truck camper? Truck campers admittedly have a fairly high center of gravity, and as cautious as a TC driver might be, you can't always "watch out of the other guy." T-boned in a highway intersection could easily spell a rollover situation. No, the camper might not disintigrate like the one in the photo, but passengers, bounced around like so many peas in a can, will certainly suffer plenty of bumps and bruises, if not death itself.

And tell me, when was the last time you saw a truck camper roll off the assembly line equipped with seatbelts? Airbags? Crumple zones?

We'd love to hear your comments.

image: mooney on photobucket.com