Sleeping in the Car: Is it Legal?

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Desperate times call for desperate solutions. Some of you might recall one day where they had been forced to sleep in their cars, be it because of an extra-long trip, or just an overwhelming amount of work. Regardless of the situation, you might find yourself in; you might be asking whether or not it’s legal to sleep in your car.

During times where accident rates are rising along with fatality rates (around 800 fatalities in 72,000 accidents), napping in the car is growing in popularity as driving while being tired is a surefire way to get in a car crash. This is where the question of whether or not sleeping in the car is illegal or not becomes more important.

Don’t worry though, as we’ll be answering this question in
this article, as well as provide extra tips and tricks for you to sleep more
comfortably and safely in your car.

Is It Illegal to Sleep in Your Car?

You never know when the situation will arise and you’ll find yourself forced to sleep in
your car, but is it legal? The answer is not so
clear-cut.

Over 81 towns have banned sleeping in cars or any other
motor vehicle since 2014. This law was made in an attempt to limit the number
of homeless people taking refuge inside a car.
This has resulted in a significant backlash from organizations that are concerned
with looking after the homeless.

Sleeping inside the car is slowly seeping into the lives of
thousands of Americans with full-time jobs, becoming a regular thing. Temple
University researchers published a 2018 survey[1]
in which the Wisconsin HOPE Lab reported that more than 30% of college students
don’t have stable housing.

The ever-rising cost
of real estate In California is slowly driving families into moving to their
motor vehicles instead. It has been estimated that 15,000 people live in vans,
RVs and cars in Los Angeles alone!

With all that said, the question still stands, “is it legal
to sleep in your car?” Well, the answer can vary from state to state, and in
some cases, even from city to city.

The DMV.org section regarding vehicle code should contain a
full breakdown by state of laws when it comes to car regulations and safety.
FindLaw.com is also an excellent place to
find the answer to this question for each state. It’s a searchable database
containing possible motor vehicle violations in each region, so make sure to check it out before hitting the sack in
your vehicle while you’re on the road.

Is Sleeping in the Car Safe?

Sleeping in your car might seem risky; however, if you know
where to stay, you should be all right.

One of the worst things you can do is park in a major highway or just any road in
general. The main reason behind this is the fact that moving vehicles will
always pose a threat to you. Choose a calm place to rest, like a parking lot or
something of the sort, so that way the danger
of moving vehicles will be minimal.

While on the subject of where to rest, you need to scout the
area in order to identify any potential threats. Don’t park in any place as you
can be assaulted, robbed, or even raped while you sleep. It’s important that
you lock the door, make sure you’re parked in a safe space and don’t be reckless.

There are great free online parking guides like AllStays[2] and HipCamp[3] that tell you about the best campgrounds, city parks, open spots, or casinos to park your car for long periods of time. There are also places that are dedicated to resting. Some states allow trucks and cars to park at a rest spot for upwards of 8 hours. That should be more than enough time for you to recover your energy and sleep.

Sleeping in the Car Like a Pro

Privacy

One of the most important
factors of sleeping is the feeling of safety. You can’t fall asleep in the
middle of a crowd unless you’re exhausted.
And even then, it’s far from being restful. Try and block your windows with
some fabric. You should try and cover the sides that see the most activity,
like the windows that face the traffic.

Another thing you’d be better off doing is pushing your
belongings away from you in order to gain space. Sleeping in a cramped place is never a comfortable way of
resting. Make sure you on the back or on the dashboard so you the car isn’t as
claustrophobic.

Ventilation

Keep your car fresh and avoid locking it off completely. If
you keep the windows completely shut, the car will eventually become damp,
smelly, and uncomfortably hot. You’ll eventually
wake up feeling sticky and gross, which is the last thing you want.

If your car has a sunroof that can be opened, you can buy a
small piece of window screen from the hardware store. Make sure it’s at least 2
inches longer on all the side than your sunroof. Keep your sunroof open just
enough to keep your car properly ventilated, but not big enough so that no
animal or person can wedge through it.

By putting the window screen, you’ll have the best of both
worlds, a ventilated car, and no worrying about safety or even bugs.

Comfort

Even though the car is far from the optimal sleeping place, that doesn’t mean that it can’t be made more comfortable, especially when compared to other mediums, such as the bus. Make do with what you have to make your car feel as comfortable as possible.

Don’t have a pillow? Use a
backpack instead.

Need more padding? Use a sleeping
bag in a sack, or you can even unroll it and use it as bedding instead.

If you can fold down the back seats of your car, then that
should make things a lot more comfortable, since lying down is a lot more
comfortable than sitting up in your front
seat. If you’re taller than 6 feet, you
can maximize space by sleeping at an angle. You can also ay on your side and
slightly bend your legs.

Have you tried sleeping in your car before? How was it? Tell
us in the comments!


[1] http://wihopelab.com/publications/Wisconsin-HOPE-Lab-Still-Hungry-and-Homeless.pdf

[2] https://www.allstays.com/

[3] https://www.hipcamp.com/

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The Medical Extern

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