Is It Legal to Ride in the Back of Pickup Trucks?

by | Apr 16, 2020 | Traffic School

Driving Laws: Is It Legal to Ride in the Back of a Pickup Truck?

Lots of people and pets ride in the back of a pickup truck, many without incident. However, there usually aren’t seat belts in the back. A lack of restraints causes serious personal injuries and factored into 47 percent of fatal accidents in 2017, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Still, the question of safety doesn’t quite answer the question, is it legal? There’s no single response to that, though. Here’s all you need to know before riding in the bed of a truck.

Is It Legal to Ride in the Back of a Pickup Truck?

The answer to this question varies, because every state in United States has its own standards — and, sometimes, the rules they set are strange. When it comes to riding in the back of a pickup truck, though, the laws are relatively clear-cut.

The following 19 states don’t have any rules about riding in the bed of a truck. In other words, you won’t get in legal trouble for doing so in:

  1. Alabama
  2. Alaska
  3. Delaware
  4. Idaho
  5. Illinois
  6. Iowa, although local ordinances may prohibit it
  7. Kentucky
  8. Minnesota
  9. Mississippi
  10. Montana
  11. New Hampshire
  12. North Dakota
  13. Oklahoma
  14. South Dakota
  15. Vermont
  16. Washington
  17. West Virginia
  18. Wyoming

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 Laws are subject to change and there isn’t a uniform federal law, so keep up with your state’s regulations to make you a safer driver and passenger.

It is not legal for people or pets to ride in the back of a pickup truck in many states.

Where Is It Illegal to Ride in the Back of a Truck?

If you don’t live in any of those states, then your hometown regulates who can ride in the back of a pickup truck. Here’s what to know, by state:

Arizona, District of Columbia and New Jersey

Only employees on duty can ride in the bed of a pickup.

California, Indiana and New York

It is illegal to ride in the bed of a truck.

Colorado

Passengers can sit in the bed, so long as it has a covered cargo area.

Connecticut

Only passengers 16 or over can ride in the back of a truck. Otherwise, they can, but they have to be wearing a seat belt.

Florida, Nevada

Only passengers 18 or over can ride in a truck bed unless the area is enclosed. Employees on duty can also ride in the back of a truck.

Georgia

Only those 18 and older can ride in the back of a pickup unless the bed has been enclosed.

Hawaii

Passengers can only sit in the bed if there’s no room in the cab.

Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico

You can ride in the back of a pickup, so long as you’re 18 or older.

Louisiana

You can’t ride in the pickup truck bed on interstate highways. No one 12 or under can sit in the back on highways.

Maine

No one under the age of 19 can ride in the back of a truck.

Maryland

Passengers younger than 16 can’t sit in the truck bed if the vehicle travels at more than 25 miles per hour. Trucks must have restraints in place for younger riders, too.

Massachusetts

Children 12 or under can’t ride in the back of a pickup truck bed unless the vehicle is driving at 5 miles per hour or less and is covering five miles or less on its journey.

Michigan

Passengers riding in truck beds can’t be under the age of 18 unless the vehicle drives less than 16 miles per hour.

Missouri

No one under the age of 18 can ride in the bed of a truck if they’re traveling via highways or in urban areas.

North Carolina

Riders under 17 can’t sit in the bed of a truck unless secured by a belt or supervised by a parent.

Ohio

Passengers under 16 can’t sit in the truck bed if the vehicle travels at speeds higher than 25 miles per hour. No one can ride in the back of a pickup if the tailgate isn’t secured.

Oregon

Anyone under 18 has to be secured by a safety belt. Otherwise, they can’t ride in the truck bed.

Pennsylvania

A truck can’t travel at speeds higher than 35 miles per hour with passengers under 18 in the back.

Rhode Island

It’s illegal for anyone under 16 to ride in the truck bed unless they have a passenger restraint.

South Carolina

Passengers 15 and under cannot sit in the rear of a pickup without adult supervision or restraint.

Tennessee

Anyone 12 and older can ride in the back of a truck.

Texas

Passengers who are younger than 18 cannot sit in the truck bed. Otherwise, the truck’s owner can seat people in the bed so long as they are family members.

Utah

No one can ride in the back of a truck except for work-related reasons.

Virginia

No one under the age of 16 can sit in the truck bed.

Wisconsin

The state stipulates that passengers can only sit in the bed for valid reasons, such as farming, hunting, work and parades.

What About Pets?

Even if you don’t pop human passengers into the truck bed, you might use the space as a place for your pet to sit. Again, state laws vary on this topic — brush up on the rules in your hometown before putting your dog there.

On that note, it’s extra dangerous for four-legged friends to sit in the bed of a truck. A 2018 study found that approximately 100,000 dogs die each year while riding around this way. They face injury in accidents, as well as carbon monoxide poisoning.

Drive — and Ride — Safe

Is it legal for you to fire in the back of a truck in your state? Even if it is, you should do so with the utmost caution.

You can ensure your safety on the road no matter what with a defensive driving course. Select your state today to sign up and feel more secure behind the wheel.

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