Rules of the Road

Rules of the Road: Is it legal to ride in pickup bed?

While it’s legal to ride in the back of a pickup, provided all other seats are taken and the passenger is older than 16, it can be very dangerous, especially in a crash. No one was seriously hurt when this truck slid into the ditch off Birch Bay-Lynden Road during a February 2009 snow that caused multiple crashes.
While it’s legal to ride in the back of a pickup, provided all other seats are taken and the passenger is older than 16, it can be very dangerous, especially in a crash. No one was seriously hurt when this truck slid into the ditch off Birch Bay-Lynden Road during a February 2009 snow that caused multiple crashes. The Bellingham Herald

Question: Is it legal to ride in the bed of a pickup truck?

Answer: For a very short question, it is a very difficult answer.

To begin, let me say that riding in the bed of a pickup truck is not a safe place to ride. You have no protection in the case of a crash.

As far as the legality of it goes, technically it is legal to ride in the bed of a pickup truck as long as all of the seat belt positions are occupied and you are older than 16 years of age.

As you can see in the sections of the RCW below, No. 4 requires that every person under the age of 16 years must either be wearing a safety belt or in an approved child restraint device.

None of us plan to be in a crash. Crashes do happen. The toll on a driver, even if the crash is not their fault, that results in a death is devastating. Keep your friends safe and make them all stay buckled up.

RCW 46.61.688 Safety belts, use required — Penalties — Exemptions.

(1) For the purposes of this section, “motor vehicle” includes;

(g) “Trucks,” meaning motor vehicles with motive power, except trailers, designed primarily for the transportation of property.

(2)(a) This section only applies to:

(i) Motor vehicles that meet the manual seat belt safety standards as set forth in 49 C.F.R. Sec. 571.208;

(b) This section does not apply to a vehicle occupant for whom no safety belt is available when all designated seating positions as required under 49 C.F.R. Part 571 are occupied.

(3) Every person sixteen years of age or older operating or riding in a motor vehicle shall wear the safety belt assembly in a properly adjusted and securely fastened manner.

(4) No person may operate a motor vehicle unless all child passengers under the age of sixteen years are either: (a) Wearing a safety belt assembly or (b) are securely fastened into an approved child restraint device.

Rules of the Road is a regular column with questions and answers on road laws, safe driving habits and general police practices. Answers come from David Wright, a retired officer from the Bellingham Police Department who serves on the Whatcom County Traffic Safety Task Force. For previous Rules of the Road columns or to ask a question, go to bellinghamherald.com/news/traffic/rules-of-the-road/.

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