Legal to ride in a pickup truck bed? - Ranger-Forums - The Ultimate Ford Ranger Resource


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Old 09-06-2005
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Legal to ride in a pickup truck bed?

Hey all,

Does anyone know any decent resources for determining if it is legal or not for passengers to ride unsecured in the back of a pickup? Obviously this is a state issue and will vary from state to state. But does anyone know of any credible, up to date resources?

So far the most comprehensive table I've found is this:

http://www.iihs.org/safety_facts/sta...cargo_laws.htm

Of little surprise to me, it says that my state of NH does not restrict such a thing.. although I've read elsewhere that it is only permitted for passengers over 12. I plan to call my state or local police and ask at some point.

My problem stems from this weekend where I was stopped and threatened w/ an $800 traffic violation!

My GF and her family have some land up in Maine, not far from the beach. It is about a 5 minute drive down rural town roads from their land to the beach. On the land they have a small 'shed' where we stay all the time in the summer. In the morning we pack up everything we need for a day on the beach into the truck and ride down. Parking is VERY expensive and so we try to get everyone into the truck for the ride. Like I say, I've been doing this as long as I've known my GF's family, and they've been doing it for decades before that. We always get the goofy looks from the rich New Yorkers up on vacation and the "Now that's carpooling!" comments from the local's working the lots.. but never much legal attention.

Last Sunday morning we were loaded up w/ three people in the cab and five (5) in the bed. This included my GF, her parents, and her sister. We do this all the time and have never been bothered. In the cab we had my GF's grand parents. They're getting older and having trouble walking long distances, so we decided to drop them off right at the beach, and then go park the truck. On the way down to the beach proper I was stopped by an officer on foot. He was nearly hysterical.

"What the hell do you think you're doing?!" he asked.

I nearly responded w/ a simple "Goin' to the beach, man! What'choo doin'?" when he proceeded to chew me out for being a complete lunatic. He then finished w/ a "I don't know how they do things in New Hampshire, clearly you aren't from around here, so I'm going to let this go w/ a warning, but don't ever do this again!" I found the 'not from around here' part funny: I was raised in the seacoast area of NH. I have family in southern Maine and spent summers there all the time. I know the area pretty well. But he was using the fact that I was from out of state as grounds for not giving me a ticket, so I wasn't about to correct him!

Now things were complicated by the fact that grammy, who was in the front seat next to me, wasn't wearing her seat belt! (Thanks gram, way to help the team out!) But I was left wondering if the officer is in fact correct or not?!

If I read the table I linked above correctly, persons 19 and older may ride in the bed in Maine. Everyone in the bed on Sunday was 19 or older. I actually think I might have been in the right (except grammy and her belt up front)..

Thoughts?
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  #2  
Old 09-06-2005
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I've never researched it but I understand it's illegal in TN....not sure of FL...which is weird cuz I never had a truck in TN and now have one in FL....
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Old 09-06-2005
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I believe it is illegal in MS also.
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Old 09-06-2005
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Michigan did not prohibit it until a few years ago when a bedload of kids were killed/maimed in a highly publicized accident here. Since the media/public outcry, it is now illegal in Michigan for anyone underage to ride in a truck bed.

The only surprising thing is that the law is restricted to only those under 18. Quite frankly, it seems incongruous to me to write tickets for unbuckled front seat passengers and, at the same time, allow an unlimited number of adult passengers to ride unrestrained in the bed of the same pickup.

From 2001:
Quote:
The Michigan Department of State Police announced three new
important laws that have recently taken effect in the State of
Michigan.

Riding In The Open Bed Of A Pickup Truck

Tragically every year children are killed
or injured while riding in the open bed
of a pickup truck. This new law prohibits
an operator from allowing a person less that 18
years of age to ride in the open bed of a pickup
truck traveling at a speed greater than 15 miles per
hour on a roadway.

Last edited by V8 Level II; 09-06-2005 at 10:49 AM.
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  #5  
Old 09-06-2005
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Illegal in CA, but then what isn't..

I can't help with an online sorce, but your best bet (like you said you're going to do) is to call the police department and ask. Or head over to the library and find the Main Vehicle Code book...
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  #6  
Old 09-06-2005
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..On the interstate/state highways I could understand..
..For kids under 18 I could almost understand..

..But I can't for the life of me understand why this should be illegal for consenting responsible adults for local travel. In a country where we are trying to promote using less fuel and driving less.. Argh! Whatever. I guess it rates up there w/ those absurd laws for mandatory seat belt and MC helmet use..

I still believe it is legal here in NH, at least for adults. But then very few things are prohibited here in NH!

Growing close to accepting that the cop might have known what he was talking about and I really was in the wrong. And that I narrowly escaped having to donate nearly an entire paycheck to the Town of Ogunquit, Maine! Bah!

Last edited by NHBubba_Revisited; 09-06-2005 at 10:51 AM.
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Old 09-06-2005
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Lets try this.. I'm getting closer.. lol.. slow day in the office..

http://janus.state.me.us/legis/statu...-Asec2081.html

Section 4, paragraph A. Read it all, the way I read it if they number of passangers exceds the number of belts, they are exempt, which I would assume would apply to passangers in the bed... or I could be way off, but its a start..
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Old 09-06-2005
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The state trooper shouldn't have been giving you any crap.

Maine

Persons 19 and older; agricultural workers and hunters 18 and younger; parades; and persons in OEM installed seats outside passenger compartment

Here is Oregon's

Persons 18 and older; minors secured with a safety belt or harness; parades; minors seated on the floor of the open bed of a motor vehicle in which all available passenger seats are occupied by minors, the tailgate is securely closed and the minor is being transported either in the course and scope of employment or between a hunting camp and hunting site or between hunting sites during hunting season and the minor has a hunting license (eff. 11/26/03)
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Old 09-06-2005
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Old 09-06-2005
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Here ya go..

19 and older is legal..

http://janus.state.me.us/legis/statu...-Asec2088.html
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Old 09-06-2005
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Awesome Jason, very well done. My thanks.. I may just print that off and keep a copy in my glove box. Depending on my mood later this week I may even draft a letter to the Ogunquit PD. They really should know the laws they are paid to enforce..
Quote:
Originally Posted by HarryTasker
The state trooper shouldn't have been giving you any crap.
Wasn't a Trooper, it was a local-yokal. If it were a State Trooper I'd highly doubt he was wrong. In my experience they are far better trained and versed in state law.
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  #12  
Old 09-06-2005
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You can in PA as long as they are over 18 and the vehicle does not go above 35mph. The only exception for the age is if they are traveling between farm fields. But again that is for PA everystate has it OWN vehicle code.
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Old 09-06-2005
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Just had lunch w/ a fellow employee.. he's an honest to gawd Mainer. I asked him what he thought. He said it was illegal, and had been since sometime in the 70's. I believe he's mistaken about both, if not, certianly the 70's bit. No way it was that way in the 70's!

I handed him the printoff of the Maine state law Jason found. He insists that it is only an ammendment and that people over the age of 19 are covered in another law. I'm not so sure. I guess the best way to know for sure is to call the Maine State Police..

Although I've emailed the GF and her family. They are looking keenly at those provisions for hunting and parade floats.. Truckzilla may get the 'parade float' mod in the near future. Either that or we'll have to wait until hunting season!
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  #14  
Old 09-06-2005
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illegal in MD

hey collin are you still thinking about coming down to baltimore ?
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  #15  
Old 09-06-2005
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Prolly not, not this year, w/ gas like it is..

Oh, and FWIW, my name is 'Colin' ... one 'l' folks!

Oh, and that first link I mentioned in my OP says it's legal in MD for persons 16 and older.. plus a couple of other exceptions. Is that innacurate?
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Old 09-06-2005
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In PA it is legal if you are staying under the speed limit of 35 mph. Anything over that speed and it is illegal to ride in the bed of a pickup
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Old 09-06-2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doc
You can in PA as long as they are over 18 and the vehicle does not go above 35mph. The only exception for the age is if they are traveling between farm fields. But again that is for PA everystate has it OWN vehicle code.
that's awesome! i always assummed it was completely illegal. is there anything online i can print to keep in my glove box too?? i know you know from being a cop, but im afraid not all cops know it.. better safe than sorry, ya know!
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Old 09-06-2005
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i know in VA it is if the driver/ppl in the back are under 18...
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Old 09-06-2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NHBubba
Prolly not, not this year, w/ gas like it is..

Oh, and FWIW, my name is 'Colin' ... one 'l' folks!

Oh, and that first link I mentioned in my OP says it's legal in MD for persons 16 and older.. plus a couple of other exceptions. Is that innacurate?
That could be right, I was always told it was illegal, but i see people do it often, so maybe it is not.
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Old 09-06-2005
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ohio is 18 and older and under 35 mph which around here is only two places...what weve done is have them go under the tonnue cover and pull it open a few buttons so they have air and light
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  #21  
Old 09-06-2005
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in florida its legal as long as the bed passengers are sitting up against the cab, anyone who isnt is ticketable and if they are underage it goes to the driver
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  #22  
Old 09-06-2005
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i only rode in the bed, for like... 3 years...

travelling with my uncle to waco from college station...

we would lay in the back, ontop of feed bags(haha, we are not rednecks, but how can i defend myself, now)...

and just listen to our headphones...

i love riding in the bed...
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Old 09-06-2005
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I've always understood it as long as all of the seatbelts in the vehicle are being used then it's ok. Anyone under 18 needs to be buckled before those that are over 18. This was when I lived in Vermont. I don't think it can be illegal in TN. I have seen more people riding in the backs of trucks this summer then the rest of my life combined.
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Old 09-06-2005
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Yeah, it's fun.. One drag about owning the truck was always that I had to drive and didn't get to ride in the back w/ the 'cool kids'..

It still very well could be illegal, even here in NH. Afterall everything good to eat is bad for you and everything fun is illegal or at the very least immoral.. That and I want to do it, so it must be illegal!
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  #25  
Old 09-06-2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TNRanger
I've always understood it as long as all of the seatbelts in the vehicle are being used then it's ok. Anyone under 18 needs to be buckled before those that are over 18. This was when I lived in Vermont. I don't think it can be illegal in TN. I have seen more people riding in the backs of trucks this summer then the rest of my life combined.
Some state laws are written that way, others are not. I think it was Washington state that turned up on one of my Google searches that worked this way.

I don't get the impression that it works that way in either Maine or NH. It would suck too as I'm sure the jump seats qualify as a seat w/ a belt. Unfortunately we can't rationally fit more than one adult back there, even for the short trip..

Besides, everyone in my instance was well over 20.
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