Is it Legal to Ride in a Pickup Truck Bed in Texas?
No Texas law forbids adults from riding in the back of a pickup truck. However, it’s not uncommon to see farmers and ranchers moving their workers from place to place in the back of a pickup truck. It’s definitely not a safe choice for motor vehicle passengers. For those under 18, it’s generally not legal to ride in the back of a pickup truck bed. However, there are a few exceptions.
In Texas, it is a misdemeanor traffic violation for a person to operate an open-bed pickup truck or an open flatbed truck with a child under the age of 18 years old riding in the bed of the truck or trailer. If prosecuted, you could be facing a fine of between $25 and $200.
Exceptions to the Rule for Children
First of all, a true emergency situation is an exception to the rule. Additionally, if the vehicle is being used in an official parade capacity, it’s okay for people under the age of 18 to ride in the back. Also, if the vehicle is being used to transport farmworkers from one field to another on farm-to-market or similar country roads, that’s okay too. Another defensible situation involves driving on the beach.
If this vehicle is the family’s sole mode of transportation for the household, it’s also accepted. It’s important to point out that although under these certain specific circumstances, it’s technically legal to ride in the bed of a pickup truck, it’s still not safe. In all possible situations, no matter what age you are, choose to ride inside of a vehicle, where you have the safety of a seatbelt and steel cage surrounding you.
The Dangers of Riding in the Bed of a Pickup Truck for Any Age
Truck beds were designed to carry cargo, not people. There are absolutely no safety restraints or any kind of protections available to passengers who are riding in the back of a pickup truck. Even seemingly minor crashes at relatively low speeds can be catastrophic or even fatal for passengers riding in the beds of pickup trucks. Rear-end crashes are especially dangerous, because passengers are at risk for being launched out of the bed and in front of the truck.
Because an object in motion likes to stay in motion, adults and children riding in the beds of pickup trucks essentially become human missiles or ragdolls, which can be thrown, tossed or launched into any direction that they’re headed in.
Objects in Motion
An object in motion stays in motion, and that is what makes safety belts so vital and lifesaving. They stop bodies from turning into missiles in violently jolting (and even seemingly minor) car accidents. Even fender benders or light rear-end wrecks can toss an unrestrained passenger out of a truck bed. Being ejected from a vehicle increases the likelihood of catastrophic and potentially fatal injuries. Neck and spinal cord injuries are very common accidents. Additionally, traumatic brain injuries can also occur.
If passengers are lucky enough not to get ejected, they can still suffer from severe injuries from being tossed around in the truck bed during an accident. Many people think that if they’re just driving down the road or around the neighborhood, it should be okay. Unfortunately, even crashes at speeds below 35 miles per hour can lead to serious injuries for unrestrained passengers in the beds of pickup trucks.
The Country-Road Safety Myth
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there is a prevailing myth that people who live in rural areas are less likely to be involved in crashes when compared with people in urban areas. In 2014, 12,444 passenger vehicle deaths happened on rural roads, while 8,332 deaths happened in urban locations. Over half of those people killed in rural locations were not buckled up at the time of the crash.
Negligent and Distracted Drivers in Conroe
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how safe of a driver you are. With record numbers of distracted, negligent and impaired drivers on roadways in Conroe, Texas, it’s just not worth the risk. Seat belts save lives, and should be used every trip, every time. They’re the single most effective way to protect yourself in the event of a car accident.
If you have been injured or if you have lost a loved one due to a distracted or dangerous driver in or around the Conroe and Montgomery County areas, contact the Scott Law Firm at (936) 270-8100 for a free case consultation today.