For many of us, the thought of taking a ride in the bed of a truck as it zooms down the highway is enticing. The wind in your hair, the sun on your face, and the thrill of the ride make it a tempting adventure. However, before you hop in the back of that pick-up truck, it is imperative to determine the legality of the ride. This is especially important for Texas drivers, where laws regarding truck beds are somewhat specific.
Texas law permits adults 18 years and older to ride in the open bed of a truck or open trailer. Conversely, passengers under 18 years old are prohibited from doing so, and a driver that permits a minor to ride in the bed of a truck is subject to a $25 to $200 fine, except under certain exceptions.
A driver who permits a minor to ride in their open-bed pickup truck, an open flatbed truck, or an open flatbed trailer is committing a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $25 to more than $200 (Texas Transportation Code § 545.414). However, exceptions to prosecution for allowing a minor to ride in the bed of a truck in Texas include, when the vehicle (or trailer) is:
It’s worth noting that while there are no laws specifically prohibiting passengers from riding in the bed of a truck, other laws can still apply. For instance, if a police officer deems it dangerous or reckless, a driver can be charged with reckless endangerment (TX Penal Code § 22.05 (2022)). If the driver had a minor in the bed of the truck, they could face child endangerment charges (Texas Penal Code – PENAL § 22.041). It’s essential to remember that legalities act as a safety net rather than an invitation to put a passenger in the back.
According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, passengers ages 18 years or older are allowed to travel sitting in the back of a pickup truck, open flatbed truck, or open flatbed trailer. Although Texas allows adults to ride in the bed of a truck yet places restrictions on minors, it is important to know that these laws differ across other states. While every state in the United States has child restraint requirements for passengers in automobiles, the laws vary for riding in the bed of a truck.
For example, the following twenty-one states have no state law restricting people of any age from riding in truck beds:
Click here for restrictions on riding in pickup beds by state as outlined by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
It is essential to keep in mind that if an accident occurs with passengers in the back of a truck bed, there’s a higher risk of injury or fatalities. A study analyzing pickup truck death statistics from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) from 1987-1996, found that passengers in cargo areas of pickup trucks have a higher risk of death than front seat occupants. In fact, the fatality risk ratio (FRR) was 3x when comparing cargo area occupants to front seat occupants, and 7.9x when comparing people who ride in the bed of a truck to restrained front seat occupants.
To sum it up, while Texas law does not prohibit adult passenger travel in the bed of a truck, it can be illegal for minors to do so and it is universally more dangerous than riding as a occupant in the truck cab. Despite the luring adventure and thrill of a truck bed ride, it’s risky and not worth the danger. As a responsible pick-up truck owner, it’s crucial always to prioritize safety and follow all traffic laws and regulations to ensure the safety of yourself and others on the road.
The Texas personal injury lawyers at Thompson Law are dedicated to helping truck accident victims injured by the negligence of another driver, even when the injury victim was taking a ride in the bed of a truck. Our firm obtained 40 of the top 100 personal injury settlements in Texas in 2022 (TopVerdict.com) for trucking accident victims, and victims of other motor vehicle and personal injury accidents.
Our truck accident lawyers are ready to help you understand your rights under Texas personal injury law with a FREE CASE REVIEW. The attorneys at our firm work on a contingency fee basis, meaning we charge NO FEE unless we are able to obtain a settlement for your truck wreck injuries. If we obtain a settlement with the insurance company, our fee only comes out of a portion of the settlement you receive. If we cannot recover any compensation for your injury accident, you will not owe us a penny for our work.
Call our personal injury lawyers in Texas today to learn if we can help you with your injury claim.
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