Is it Legal to Have Passengers in Your Truck Bed in Louisiana?
Many of us have fond memories of riding in the back of our dad’s truck bed. Whether we were going to see Independence Day fireworks or going fishing, it was always adults in the front and kids in the back.
Decades later, riding in the truck bed has gone the way of riding bikes without helmets and exploring the neighborhood with friends out of parental supervision. Laws and restrictions have been updated to reflect the seriousness of injuries.
What Laws Govern Who Can Ride in the Back of a Truck Bed?
The laws that govern who may ride in a truck bed have evolved since the 1960s. Gone are the days when Mom and Dad rounded up all the kids and their friends to go into town. Even Fido is not allowed in the truck bed anymore.
In the latest interpretation:
- The truck bed is no longer the “kid” seat in a pickup truck like it was in the 1960s. No child 12 and under is allowed to ride in the back of an open truck on a highway.
- If your preteens and younger protest and beg to be allowed in the back, there are two exceptions.
- Sign them up to be in a parade and they can enjoy all the open air they want. Parades are a great exception to allowing children to ride in the truck bed. The best part is they must ride with an adult.
- The other exception allows for an emergency situation where there is an adult present.
If you choose to allow passengers in your truck bed, there are a few things to consider involving fines, accidents, and potential injuries.
Are There Fines for Having Passengers in the Bed of Your Truck?
Most traffic law violations result in fines. Under the Code of Ordinances in Louisiana, if you have a passenger under the age of 12 in your truck bed, the penalty will be:
- $29.00 plus court costs, resulting in a total of $156.50
The fines can be compounded if the truck is stopped on the interstate highway.
Is it Risky for Passengers to Ride in the Bed of a Truck?
When a passenger rides in a truck cargo bed, there are no restraints for safety belts. The passenger is exposed to the elements and vulnerable to being thrown from the vehicle.
According to the study, Fatalities to Occupants of Cargo Areas of Pickup Trucks:
- 34% of cargo bed fatalities were from non-crash events, including being thrown from the vehicle due to swerving, rough roads, or sudden deceleration
- 55% of deaths were people between the ages of 15 and 29 years old
- The estimated risk to truck bed passengers was 7.9 times restrained occupants
In the last reporting year, nearly 20,000 people were killed in small pickup truck accidents with over a million injuries.
What Injuries Can You Sustain if You Are Riding in the Bed of a Truck?
Passengers riding in the cargo area of a pickup truck are vulnerable to an array of catastrophic injuries. Even if a truck drives 30 mph, it can still be fatal.
The most common fatal injury for a passenger riding in a truck bed is a severe head injury. Passengers can fall out during a sharp turn or particularly bumpy road. In some cases, passengers are riding on the wheel well.
The most common non-fatal injuries for truck bed passengers include:
- Head injuries, like concussions and traumatic brain injuries
- Limb loss and amputations
- Spinal cord injuries that can lead to paraplegia and paralysis
- Internal organ damage and bleeding
- Broken, dislocated, and fractured bones
- Severe road rash
Many of the above injuries lead to permanent damage with significant life-long implications. Recoveries are often long, difficult, and painful. There may be home modifications to be made or everyday routines to alter and relearn. While riding in the back of a pickup truck is legal in Louisiana, drivers should ensure passengers know the risks.
Why Is It So Dangerous to Ride in the Bed of a Pickup Truck in Louisiana?
Truck beds are designed for cargo. They have no safety features for passengers. There are no airbags or seat belts to prevent a person from being ejected or hurt during a crash.
The top reasons riding in a truck bed is so dangerous involve:
- The material used for truck beds is slippery and made of durable plastic, causing passengers to slide back and forth.
- If the truck is struck from the back, a rear-end collision can crush passengers or throw passengers forward.
- Carbon monoxide exposure is dangerous, causing vertigo, headaches, nausea, and may lead to death.
- If the pickup truck is struck on the side, it is prone to rolling due to the top-heavy frame. Passengers in the truck bed can be pinned underneath.
- Passengers can also be ejected from the truck by the force of the collision
While riding in the truck bed may be nostalgic and fun, drivers should exercise considerable caution when allowing passengers in the back.
Can You Still File a Claim if You are Injured While Riding in the Bed of a Truck?
Louisiana law allows individuals over 12 to ride in the back of the truck and restricts a truck’s access to the highway. When passengers ride in the truck bed, they take a significant risk of injury. However, the state does not prevent injury victims from recovering compensation.
When filing a claim, an insurance adjuster may assert that you assumed the risk by sitting in an unsecured truck bed and are responsible for your own injuries. An insurance company may argue that you are not entitled to the full compensation under the modified comparative negligence law.
Insurance adjusters can be very aggressive. They are highly trained negotiators tasked with minimizing any settlement or payout. Call and discuss the details of your case with the truck accident attorneys of Charbonnet Law Firm, LLC today by dialing (504) 294-5075.