California Department of Transportation
 

45' Motorhomes (Greater than 40' up to 45')

DEFINITIONS

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.

BACKGROUND

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.

DRIVER LICENSE REQUIREMENTS

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) 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. See CVC Section 12804.15(b)(2) which is also copied below under "Legal History."

LEGAL ROUTES

Access Routes: 45' motorhomes may travel on virtually every State route EXCEPT those signed with a 30-foot kingpin-to-rear-axle (KPRA) advisory sign. This sign advises trucks with a KPRA of more than 30 feet not to use the route. There are also KPRA advisories signs with 32, 34, 36, and 38 feet. These advisories that are 32 feet and higher ALLOW 45' motorhomes to use the routes. See the advisory sign below.

Advisory Route
Indicates KPRA length advised

In case the signs are not posted as intended, it is recommended that drivers also use the maps as described below.

On-Line Map: See: http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/traffops/engineering/bus-motorhome/45-bus-map.htm. Click on the red numbers to open each regional map.

Restricted Route List: An on-line list of route segments that restrict 45' motorhomes is at: http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/traffops/engineering/bus-motorhome/45-bus-restrict.htm. The list includes beginning and ending post miles and intersecting streets or highways of each segment.

Stopping for Services: 45' motorhomes may exit the designated route for fuel, food, and lodging provided the access is safe, and provided the service is within one road mile of an "identified" exit. The exit must be identified to show that the service route has been evaluated and approved by State and local engineers. Currently, the only identification system for service exits is a "Service Access" sign, which is 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.


Sign #
G66-55

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 motorhome 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.

LEGAL HISTORY

Vehicle Length: The basic vehicle length limit in California is stated in the California Vehicle Code (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.

Section
Topic
2429.3
Outreach committee.
12804.9 (b)(2)(F)
Class B driver license.
12804.10
Class B driver license. House car endorsement -- written exam, driving test, and medical exam.
12804.15
Nonresident requirements. Endorsement requirements, fees and license expiration date.
14100 (a)
Administrative hearings.
35400 (b) (11)
Route access. Service access.

2429.3 (Please use the link to the on-line CVC as this section is long and may not be relevant to most readers.)

12804.9 ... (b) In accordance with the following classifications, an applicant for a driver's license shall be required to submit to an examination appropriate to the type of motor vehicle or combination of vehicles the applicant desires a license to drive:
...
(2) Class B includes the following:
...
(F) A house car over 40 feet in length, excluding safety devices and safety bumpers.

12804.10 ... (b) Any person seeking to drive any house car over 40 feet in length, excluding safety devices and safety bumpers, shall obtain a noncommercial class B driver's license with house car endorsement as described in this subdivision. The applicant for that endorsement shall pass a specialized written examination and demonstrate the ability to exercise ordinary and reasonable control in operating that vehicle by driving it under the supervision of an examining officer. Upon satisfactory completion of the examination and demonstration, the applicant shall be issued a noncommercial class B driver's license with house car endorsement by the department. Upon application for an endorsement to operate this vehicle, and every two years thereafter, the applicant shall submit medical information on a form approved by the department.

(Note: "Department" in this CVC section means the California Departmenet of Motor Vehicles.)

12804.15 (a) Notwithstanding Section 362, for purposes of this section "house car" means a vehicle described in subdivision (b) of Section 12804.10.

(b) (1) Except as provided under paragraph (2), no person may operate a house car unless that person has in his or her possession a valid driver's license of the appropriate class and an endorsement thereto issued by the department to permit operation of the house car.

(2) A nonresident may not operate a house car in this state unless that person is in possession of an out-of-state driver's license authorizing the operation of that vehicle.

(c) An endorsement to drive a house car may be issued only if the applicant meets all of the following conditions:
(1) The applicant successfully completes an examination prescribed by the department to determine qualification for the endorsement.
(2) Upon initial application and every two years thereafter, the applicant submits medical information on a form approved by the department to verify that the person meets the minimum medical requirements established by the department for operation of a house car.
(3) Upon application for issuance of an original driver's license or renewal driver's license pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 12804.10, there shall be paid to the department a fee of thirty-four dollars ($34) for a license that will expire on the applicant's fifth birthday following the date of the application.

(d) The department may deny, suspend, or revoke an endorsement to drive a house car when the applicant does not meet any requirement for the issuance or retention of the endorsement.

14100. (a) Whenever the department has given notice, or has taken or proposes to take action under Section 12804.15, 13353, 13353.2, 13950, 13951, 13952, or 13953, the person receiving the notice or subject to the action may, within 10 days, demand a hearing which shall be granted, except as provided in Section 14101.

35400 ... (b) ... (11) (A) A house car of a length of up to 45 feet when operating on the National System of Interstate and Defense Highways or when using those portions of federal aid primary system highways that have been qualified by the United States Secretary of Transportation for that use, or when using routes appropriately identified by the Department of Transportation or local authorities, with respect to highways under their respective jurisdictions.

(B) A house car described in subparagraph (A) may be operated on a highway that provides reasonable access to facilities for purposes limited to fuel, food, and lodging when that access is consistent with the safe operation of the vehicle and when the facility is within one road mile of identified points of ingress and egress to or from highways specified in subparagraph (A) for use by that vehicle.

(C) As used in this paragraph and paragraph (10), "reasonable access" means access substantially similar to that authorized for combinations of vehicles pursuant to subdivision (c) of Section 35401.5.

(D) Any access route established by a local authority pursuant to subdivision (d) of Section 35401.5 is open for access by a house car of a length of up to 45 feet. In addition, local authorities may establish a process whereby access to services by house cars of a length of up to 45 feet may be applied for upon a route not previously established as an access route. The denial of a request for access to services shall be only on the basis of safety and an engineering analysis of the proposed access route. In lieu of processing an access application, local authorities, with respect to highways under their jurisdiction, may provide signing, mapping, or a listing of highways, as necessary, to indicate the use of these specific routes by a house car of a length of up to 45 feet.

ORGANIZATIONS

The following trade organizations may be good sources of information.

Family Motor Coach Association
8291 Clough Pike
Cincinnati, OH 45244
(800) 543-3622
(513) 474-3622
Website: www.fmca.com
Recreation Vehicle Industry Association
1896 Preston White Drive
P.O. Box 2999
Reston, VA 22090-0999
(703) 620-6003
Website: www.rvia.org
RV/MH Heritage Foundation
801 Benham Ave.
Elkhart, IN 46516
(800) 378-8694
(219) 293-2344
E-mail: rvmhhall@aol.com
Website: www.rv-mh-hall-of-fame.org
California Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds
P. O. Box 5648
Auburn, CA 95604
(530) 885-1624
E-mail: info@calarvc.com
Website: www.camp-california.com
National RV Dealers Association
3930 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030-2515
(703) 591-7130
E-mail: info@rvda.org
Website: www.rvda.org
California RV Dealers Association
1401 P Street, #412
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 658-0260
E-mail: CalRVDA@aol.com
The Good Sam Club
P.O. Box 6888
Englewood, CO 80155-6888
Website: www.goodsamclub.com

 

 


CONTACTS

Caltrans Legal Truck Size & Weight Work Group
Casey Robb
Manuel Fonseca
General number (916) 654-5741

E-mail: Legal Truck Access Branch.

Return to the Caltrans "45' Bus & Motorhome" page.

Revised 9/10/13.