You. Don't put yourself in a truck bed if you are under 18 and here is why.

Is it Legal to Ride in the Bed of a Truck in Texas?

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.

What are the Exceptions for Minors Who Ride in the Bed of a Truck in Texas?

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:

  1. being used in parade or in an emergency
  2. being used to transport farmworkers from one field to another, on a farm-to-market road, ranch-to-market road, or county road outside a municipality
  3. being used on a beach
  4. the only motor vehicle owned/operated by the household members (with “household” defined as “persons living together in the same housing unit regardless of their familial relationship, per Texas Family Code Section 71.005)
  5. being used in a hayride permitted by the government or law enforcement in that area

What Other Laws May Apply to Minors Who Ride in Truck Beds?

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.

What are the Restrictions on Riding in Truck Beds in Every State?

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 truckopen 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:

  1. Alabama
  2. Alaska
  3. Arizona
  4. Delaware
  5. Idaho
  6. Illinois
  7. Indiana
  8. Iowa
  9. Kentucky
  10. Minnesota
  11. Mississippi
  12. Montana
  13. New Hampshire
  14. North Dakota
  15. Oklahoma
  16. South Dakota
  17. Utah
  18. Vermont
  19. Washington
  20. West Virginia
  21. Wyoming

Click here for restrictions on riding in pickup beds by state as outlined by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

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