Riding in the Back of a Pickup in Texas
By Joan Whetzel
People have ridden in the back of pickup trucks for decades, most of them without incident. However, there are risks associated with riding in a pickup's cargo bed which have triggered the passing of laws in Washington DC and at least 30 states. Most of these laws are intended to protect children younger than 16 years. Can people legally ride in the bed of a pickup truck? Probably the better question to ask is: Should they?
The Common Sense Answer
Essentially, the answer is no, with few exceptions. Common sense dictates that if household items and boxes that aren't tied can fly out of the back of a pickup truck, so can unrestrained passengers. When travelling down a highway at speeds of 55 to 75 mph, any bump or sudden tap on the brakes will - at the very least - can toss those unrestrained passengers around in the truck bed and, in the worst case scenario, send them flying out of the truck and onto the road, possibly into the path of oncoming traffic.
Federal laws and statutes demand passenger compartments for vehicles designed to protect people during a traffic accident. Pickup truck cargo beds are designed to carry cargo, which should be tied down to prevent the cargo from flying out of the truck. People, and especially children, are too easily tossed out of the back of a pickup truck. In fact, For children under the age of 16, seat belts and child restraint laws apply in every state. And it goes without saying that cargo bays do not have seat belts.
Texas Law on Riding in the Back of a Pickup Truck
In Texas, the law allows people to ride in the back of pickup trucks under the following conditions:
· people riding in the bed must be 18 and older
· when vehicles that are the only vehicles owned by members of the household
· vehicles used in parades, hay rides, or on beaches, or being used in an emergency
· vehicles used in farm operations used to transport people from field to field or on farm
The law prohibits anyone under the age of 18 from riding in the back of a pickup truck, unless it's the only family vehicle or it's a government-sanctioned hayride. Otherwise it is considered an offense, a misdemeanor carrying fines of from $25 to $200.
Exceptions to the Law
The exceptions to the laws about riding in the back of a pickup truck are that the rider(s) must be over the age of 18. In addition, the exceptions include: use of the pickup in a parade, in an emergency, or on the beach; for transporting farm workers from one field to another; when the pickup is the only family vehicle, or for government sanctioned hayrides. These exceptions are allowed as a defense in court.
Harris County Texas. Riding in the Back of a Pickup.
Texas Department of Public Safety. New Traffic Laws Take Effect.
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Restrictions for Riding in Cargo Areas of Pickups.
Texas Department of Public Safety. Texas Occupant Restraint Laws.