Before the 1990s, riding in the back of pickup trucks was common. You would often see children, teens, and adults participating in this activity, especially in small towns. Today, however, with more knowledge about vehicle safety, this is considered a serious and dangerous activity.
In 2021, over 26,000 people were killed in car accidents. Of these, it is reported that around 50% were not wearing seat belts or restraints when the incidents occurred. While most of these fatalities were not caused by people riding in the back of pickup trucks, this was a preventable factor in some accidents.
No Minnesota law prohibits people from riding in the back of a pickup truck (under some conditions); however, this does not mean it is a good idea. The risks are real, and they’re serious. As car accident lawyers at Nelson Personal Injury, LLC, we’ve seen firsthand how these seemingly fun rides can end in tragedy.
If you are injured after riding in the back of a pickup truck, you may be able to recover compensation. Contact our law firm to learn more and read more about the dangers of riding in the back of a pickup truck here. Learn more about the law and dangers of this activity here.
Understanding Minnesota Law on Riding in the Back of a Pick-Up
Minnesota law does not strictly prohibit riding in the back of a pick-up truck. However, there are guidelines on who can ride in the back of a pickup truck and when. Understanding these laws is crucial for your safety, the safety of others and to avoid legal repercussions.
Minnesota Statutes Are Silent
Minnesota Statute 169.686 covers required seatbelt use in vehicles. The statute is generally silent on riding in the back of a pickup, but seatbelt laws may require seatbelt use in certain situations. Exemptions may apply in certain situations. For example, a person riding in the back of a pickup truck may be exempt from seatbelt use if all the seating positions equipped with safety belts are occupied by other persons in safety belts.
One of the main conditions laid out by Minnesota law is that no child under 18 is allowed to ride in the back of a pickup truck on any interstate highway. This provision specifically aims to protect younger passengers, who are often more vulnerable to accidents.
It is worth noting that this is not specifically a law that relates to riding in the back of pick-ups, but instead, the seat belt laws in the state. This is true for most of the limitations in the state for riding in the back of a pickup truck.
Requirements for a Safe Ride
The law also stipulates that the vehicle must have a secured tailgate to ensure passenger safety. Furthermore, the driver is responsible for driving in a manner that is cautious and mindful of the passengers riding in the back.
Comparison with Other States: How Does Minnesota Measure Up?
The laws for riding in the back of a pickup truck vary from state to state. Here, you can learn more about how Minnesota’s laws compare to other states. This can be beneficial if you have travel plans or want to know what to expect in different parts of the country.
Leniency in Minnesota
Minnesota is relatively lenient regarding allowing passengers to ride in the back of a pickup truck. While there are no set laws related to riding in the back of a truck, seat belt laws, and others require caution. Failing to abide by these laws may result in fines for the person in the bed and the driver.
In contrast, states like California and New York have much stricter laws. In California, for example, it’s illegal for anyone to ride in the back of a pickup truck unless the area is enclosed or the vehicle is participating in a parade. In New York, passengers are not allowed to ride in the back of a pickup truck at all, except for work-related purposes, and even then, specific safety measures must be in place.
Some states, like Texas and Florida, have less strict regulations than California and New York but are still more restrictive than Minnesota. In Texas, children under 18 are not allowed to ride in the back of a pickup truck unless secured with a safety belt. In Florida, the law prohibits minors under 18 from riding in the back of a pickup truck at speeds greater than 30 mph.
Minnesota’s laws are comparatively lenient regarding riding in the back of a pickup truck. However, it’s essential to remember that leniency in law doesn’t equate to road safety. If an accident occurs while you ride in the back of a pickup truck, the likelihood of a serious or fatal outcome is much higher than for those in the cab.
The Risks Involved: Safety Concerns and Legal Liabilities
Riding in the bed of a pickup truck can be exciting; however, the risks are not worth the few minutes of fun. Learn about some safety concerns and legal liabilities in this activity.
Elevated Risk of Ejection
Riding in the bed of a truck increases the risk of ejection. The cabin has seat belts and airbags (for newer vehicles). Unfortunately, you are exposed in the truck bed with virtually no protection. If the driver suddenly stops, swerves, or collides with something, those in the bed may be ejected, leading to serious injuries and fatalities.
Exposure to Road Elements
Passengers in the bed of a truck are also exposed to road elements, like rain, debris, and dust. These may impair vision or create hazardous conditions in the truck bed. Injuries may also occur.
Lack of Crash Protection
As mentioned above, anyone in the truck bed has no protection if an accident occurs. There are no crumple zones, airbags, or seat belts to mitigate the impact, making severe injuries or fatalities more likely to occur.
Riding in the back of a pickup truck may offer a sense of freedom, but it comes at the cost of significant safety risks. We believe it is not worth the risk and staying safe should be a priority.
If you drive with passengers in the bed of your truck, you may face legal consequences if they are injured. This includes fines, penalties, and criminal charges, like reckless endangerment or vehicular manslaughter.
Lawsuits from Passengers
Passengers who get injured may have the legal grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver. Even if riding in the back was consensual, the driver’s responsibility for passenger safety can make them liable for injuries.
Insurance Company Stance
Insurance companies generally frown upon passengers riding in the back of a pickup truck. If an accident occurs, there’s a chance your insurance premiums could skyrocket, or your policy could be canceled altogether. Additionally, some insurance policies might not cover injuries sustained in the cargo area, leaving you financially responsible for the related costs.
Legal Doesn’t Always Mean Safe
The allure of riding in the back of a pickup truck is undeniable for many—there’s a certain thrill, a sense of freedom that comes with it. However, just because something is legal doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe. Minnesota has somewhat lenient laws regarding this activity, but the physical and legal risks are significant.
If the unthinkable does happen, know that legal help is available. At Nelson Personal Injury, LLC, our team of car accident lawyers is here to guide you through the complexities of the law and ensure you understand your rights and options.
Your safety and well-being are more important than a momentary thrill. Make informed choices and stay safe on the road.