45' Motorhomes (Overview)
The basic California length law for vehicles is 40 feet unless specifically exempted. On October 9, 2001, Governor Davis signed Assembly Bill (AB) 67 which changed the California Vehicle Code (CVC) to allow motorhomes over 40 feet in length, up to 45 feet, on certain routes. 45' motorhomes are allowed on interstates and on those State routes that can accommodate them.
45' Motorhome: On this web page, a 45' motorhome refers to a single-unit motorhome that is longer than 40 feet but not more than 45 feet. (Note: A vehicle combination, e.g. a motorhome towing a vehicle or trailer, may be up to 65 feet length. If the single-unit motorhome is 40 feet or less in length, the combination is not subject to the route restrictions for the 45' motorhome.)
Motorhome: A motorhome is a noncommercial passenger vehicle defined in the California Vehicle Code (CVC) Section 465 as a "house car" and commonly referred to as a recreation vehicle. CVC 362 defines "house car" as "a motor vehicle originally designed, or permanently altered, and equipped for human habitation, or to which a camper has been permanently attached." A motorhome should not to be confused with a bus (CVC 233) or a tour bus (CVC 612), also called "motorcoach," which is used for commercial passenger transportation and requires a commercial driver license to operate. See also Public Utilities Code 5360-5379.5 and 226.
Vehicle Length: The basic vehicle length limit in California is stated in the CVC Section 35400(a): "A vehicle may not exceed a length of 40 feet."
Federal & State Law (Buses): In 1991, federal legislation allowed 45' buses on the interstates and "reasonable access" routes. This federal law was codifed in State law in the California Vehicle Code (CVC) Section 35400(b)(10)(A). Caltrans determined which State routes can accommodate the 45' length buses and created the 45' bus network map.
State Law (Motorhomes): On October 9, 2001, California Governor Davis signed Assembly Bill 67 which also legalized motorhomes over 40 feet in length, up to 45 feet, on certain routes in California. Those routes include the interstates, and the same State routes that already allowed 45' buses.
AB 67 is on the website of the Legislative Counsel of California at this link: AB 67. AB 67 changed or added the CVC sections listed in the table below. These CVC sections are also copied below the table.
|Class B driver license.|
|Class B driver license. House car endorsement -- written exam, driving test, and medical exam.|
|Nonresident requirements. Endorsement requirements, fees and license expiration date.|
35400 (b) (11)
|Route access. Service access.|
The CVC requires a motorhome endorsement on a noncommercial class B driver license issued by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The pertinent CVC sections are copied below under "Legal History."
Application: Click on this DMV website for commercial vehicle licensing and scroll down to these three topics: "How to apply for a noncommercial driver license," "Requirements for a Noncommercial Class B driver permit," and "Requirements for a Noncommercial Class B driver license." The driver must pass a written and skills examination (i.e. a driving test), submit a specified medical form, and pay a $34 fee. You may use the on-line DMV booklet Recreational Vehicles & Trailers (DL-648) (PDF) to prepare for the exam. The booklet may also be available at the local DMV field offices that test motorhomes. To set up an appointment, or locate a booklet, you may call DMV at 1-800-777-0133.
The medical exam must be repeated every two years. The license is valid for approximately five years.
Out-of-State Drivers: Non-residents visiting California may not operate a motorhome over 40 feet in length unless in possession of an out-of-state driver license authorizing the operation of that vehicle.
The following sources illustrate the routes that allow 45' motorhomes:
On-Line Map: By district. Green routes allow 45' motorhomes, and red routes prohibit them.
Stopping for Services: 45' motorhomes may exit the designated route for fuel, food, and lodging provided the access is signed and the service is within one road mile of the "identified" exit. The exit must be signed to show that the service route has been evaluated and approved by State and local engineers. This "Service Access" sign shows an "S" on the back of a truck, as illustrated below. These signs were intended for large trucks, and are located primarily on the interstates.
California Sign Code: G66-55 (CA)
For more information on service access, see the web page Service Access Routes.
City and County Access Roads: Caltrans has jurisdiction over State routes only. 45' motorhomes are allowed on certain State routes, but not necessarily on local roads. Cities and counties have jurisdiction over local roads. To inquire about motorhomes access on local roads, contact the appropriate city or county public works department.
Changing Route Classifications
To request that a road be opened up to 45' motorhomes, follow these instructions:
State routes: Caltrans has already analyzed State routes for their ability to accommodate 45-foot motorhomes, which is the worst case motorhome over 40 feet in length. However, highway improvement projects that change the geometrics may justify a new evaluation. To inquire about a possible new access route, contact Caltrans Headquarters at (916) 654-5741 for referral to the appropriate Caltrans district staff.
City and county roads: To request a city or county road evaluation for 45' motorhome access, contact the appropriate city or county public works department. If the city or county road intersects a State highway, Caltrans will also need to evaluate the exit and entrance ramps.
45-Foot Bus & Motorhome Design Vehicle: The turning characteristics of the 45-foot motorhomes can now be evaluated with more precision using modern computer methods rather than comparing them with the truck KPRA routes. The Caltrans Highway Design Manual (HDM) has a new design vehicle for the 45-foot motorhomes called the " 45' Bus and Motorhome Design Vehicle." This vehicle is in the HDM on Page 400-20, Figure 404.5F, at: http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/oppd/hdm/pdf/english/chp0400.pdf.
City and County Access Roads: Caltrans has jurisdiction over State routes only. 45' motorhomes are allowed on certain State routes, but not necessarily on local roads. Cities and counties have jurisdiction over local roads. To inquire about motorhome access on local roads, contact the appropriate city or county public works department.
The following trade organizations may be good sources of information.
|Family Motor Coach Association
8291 Clough Pike
Cincinnati, OH 45244
|Recreation Vehicle Industry Association
1896 Preston White Drive
P.O. Box 2999
Reston, VA 22090-0999
|RV/MH Heritage Foundation
801 Benham Ave.
Elkhart, IN 46516
|California Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds
P. O. Box 5648
Auburn, CA 95604
|National RV Dealers Association
3930 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030-2515
|California RV Dealers Association
1401 P Street, #412
Sacramento, CA 95814
|The Good Sam Club
P.O. Box 6888
Englewood, CO 80155-6888