Is It Legal to Ride in the Back of a Truck in Virginia?

When a pickup driver isn’t carrying cargo, passengers may consider riding in the back. Sometimes, people want to enjoy the fresh air outside the vehicle’s frame. In other cases, drivers are trying to carry more passengers than there are seats. In Virginia, if you and the other passengers are at least 16 years old, then it is legal to ride in the truck bed.

While it may be legal to ride in the back of a truck, the decision to do so may put your life in danger. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), passengers riding unrestrained in the beds of pickup trucks die more frequently than in any other type of vehicle. If you are hurt or lose a loved one to any type of vehicle accident, a dedicated attorney can provide more information about your rights and legal options.

No Safety Features in Back

The front part of pickup trucks, known as the cab, is designed to provide comfort and safety for drivers and passengers. This section of the vehicle is equipped with safety features like seatbelts and airbags as well as steel reinforced bars for protection in rollover accidents.

The back of the truck is not equipped for passengers; it’s meant for hauling larger items like tools, fishing equipment, and furniture. Under Virginia law, drivers must restrain cargo in the back of their pickup truck with tie-downs. Passengers, however, are not subject to this requirement and have nothing preventing them from being thrown from the vehicle if the driver makes a sudden stop or takes a corner too swiftly. Sitting in the truck’s cab is always the safest decision.

What the Law Says

Virginia Code § 46.2-1156.1 prohibits drivers from allowing children younger than 16 to ride in the cargo areas of their pickup trucks. This law does allow exceptions for trucks engaging in farming or participating in sanctioned parades. However, these exceptions do not apply to events taking place on or across busy highways. When passengers are riding in the cargo area, any potential accident is bound to be catastrophic.

Impact on Personal Injury Claims

Truck accidents may serve as the basis for personal injury claims if someone can prove another driver was responsible and should pay for the damages. Because Virginia is a pure comparative negligence state, even if a jury finds a plaintiff one percent responsible for an accident, the plaintiff is not eligible to collect compensation. Negligent drivers will look for any evidence that plaintiffs were partially at-fault.

Even if you are older than 16 and permitted by law to ride in the back of a pickup truck, this action may serve as an argument you put yourself in danger and contributed to your own injuries. This defense requires proving a plaintiff knew the risk they were taking and how serious the consequences could be.

Injured Passengers Should Seek Legal Counsel

Riding in the bed of a pickup truck might sound exciting, but you risk horrific injuries and, in the worst case, death if you are ejected. By making safe decisions and following the law, you are less likely to get involved in catastrophic crashes. When or someone you love are hurt in a pickup truck accident, call a personal injury attorney at Price Benowitz to discuss your next steps.