When you were a kid, you may have ridden in the back of a pickup truck as you cruised down the road unbelted. Cautious drivers understand intuitively how dangerous that is, but is it illegal?

The short answer is yes, it is illegal. Texas law has specific restrictions on riding in the back of a pickup truck.

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 between $25 and $200. Since every passenger, including children, in the state of Texas is require to have a seat belt on in a moving vehicle, it could mean receiving a ticket up to $250 if they don’t.

There are notable exceptions to the rule, including:

  • operating the vehicle to transport farmworkers from one field to another field on a farm-to-market road, ranch-to-market road, or county road outside a municipality
  • operating the vehicle on a beach
  • operating a vehicle that is the only vehicle owned or operated by the members of a household
  • operating the vehicle in a hayride permitted by the governing body of or a law enforcement agency of each county or municipality in which the hayride will occur.

One last notable exception to the rule includes, “operating or towing the vehicle in a parade or in an emergency.”

The rules are different when it comes to adults. Texas law does not forbid anyone over the age of 18 from riding in the open bed of a truck or trailer.

Regardless of age, the risk of traveling without a seatbelt still exists, and drivers should be aware of how dangerous traveling with riders in the back of a truck or trailer can be.

If an accident happens with a truck-bed passenger, including children, that could result in civil liability, serious injury, and insurance increases.

Dangers of riding in back of a pickup truck for anyone, includes fatal or serious injury in the event of even a minor crash. Rear-end crashes could result in a bed passenger being launched out of the truck bed, essentially becoming human missiles, thrown into any direction out of their control. Children, being lighter, to be thrown, are more likely to sustain more serious injuries and a higher likeliness of resulting in death.