How Wide Can Your RV Legally Be? (And Why It Matters!)


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There are several factors that you must keep in mind when investing in a new RV or exploring used motorhomes. Along with dependability, fuel economy, safety function, and comfort features, you must also consider the dimensions, especially the width of the vehicle.

It not only means that you should get the most space and size for your investment but it also means that you don’t cross legal boundaries.

According to the RV Industry Association, the legal width of an RV in most states is 102 inches (8.5 feet) with 540 inches (45 feet) in length. However, there are some states that have different rules regarding RV dimensions.

In this article, I’ll discuss everything you need to know about RV dimensions, especially width. I’ll help you understand what width size you should choose while buying a motorhome depending on your state.

How Wide Can Your RV Legally Be in the Different States

As mentioned above, the RV width and overall size rules can vary from state to state. That’s because the size of roads in different states can vary in width as well.

For instance, the District of Columbia has notoriously narrow streets and roads. Therefore, the maximum legal width of an RV in this state is 96 inches (8 feet).

All RV products that manufacturers offer in the United States must comply with the rules outlined by FMVSS (Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards) and ANSI A119.5 or NFPA 1192. Regarding the width, all recreational vehicles have a special exception for appurtenances, such as truck camper tie-downs, side mirrors, and retracted side awnings, outlined by federal laws.

Almost all states have adopted these federal exemptions. It means that appurtenances are not included when measuring the width of a recreational vehicle.

While the legal maximum width of an RV in most states is 102 inches (8.5 feet), the following are the states that differ from this rule.

District of Columbia

  • Maximum allowed width: 96 inches or 8 feet
  • Maximum allowed length: 480 inches or 40 feet

Hawaii

  • Maximum allowed width: 108 inches or 9 feet
  • Maximum allowed length: 576 inches or 48 feet

Kansas

  • Maximum allowed width: 108 inches or 9 feet
  • Maximum allowed length: 540 inches or 45 feet

New Hampshire

  • Maximum allowed width: 96 inches or 8 feet
  • Maximum allowed length: 540 inches or 45 feet

Kentucky

  • Maximum allowed width: 96 inches or 8 feet (102 inches or 8.5 feet on certain federal roads)
  • Maximum allowed length: 540 inches or 45 feet

Maryland

  • Maximum allowed width: 96 inches or 8 feet (102 inches or 8.5 feet on certain federal roads)
  • Maximum allowed length: 480 inches or 40 feet

New Jersey

  • Maximum allowed width: 96 inches or 8 feet (102 inches or 8.5 feet on certain federal roads)
  • Maximum allowed length: 480 inches or 40 feet

New York

  • Maximum allowed width: 96 inches or 8 feet (102 inches or 8.5 feet on certain federal roads)
  • Maximum allowed length: 540 inches or 45 feet

Other than roads in Washington DC, all federally funded roads in the country, like interstate highways, allow for RV with 102 inches or 8.5 feet of width. However, these roads must have at least 12 feet wide lanes.

RV Maximum Wide per States – Infographic

How Wide Can Your RV Legally Be - infographic
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Why Does the Width of an RV Matter?

The width of RVs matters because it defines your safety on the road. As mentioned above, every state has a set of rules about the RV width that’s designed based on the width of roads the state has.

If you use a recreational vehicle that is wider than the rules defined, it’ll increase the risk of damaging other vehicles on the road. Additionally, if your motorhome is too wider, it can even get damaged by buildings around it.

The width of your motorhome also matters because it affects the turning radius of the vehicle. The wider the RV the higher the turning radius. It means that you’ll get stuck on tight corners and turns if your vehicle is too broad.


How to Measure the RV Width

You want to make sure that the width of your RV complies with the rules set by your state. Otherwise, you won’t be able to get it registered with your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles.

The width of a recreational vehicle is measured from one side to the other of the widest part. However, as mentioned earlier, the appurtenances aren’t included while measuring the width.

You can use a simple tape measure to complete this process easily. However, if you can’t measure your motorhome’s width, you can read the user manual of the vehicle.

It’ll allow you to find out the exact measurement if you have not performed any modifications to your RV that have altered the width.


Final Words

Considering the width of an RV while buying a new motorhome is very important. It’ll allow you to choose the vehicle that doesn’t break any laws and gives you a safe driving experience.

I hope this guide has helped you understand what width size you should consider while buying an RV depending on your State/area.

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