Can You Ride In The Back Of A Truck?

Hitching a ride on open beds of pickup trucks is pretty common if you grew up outside of the cities and suburbs. In the stretched outbacks, sometimes there is no alternative to carrying passengers other than walking. However, you might wonder, can you ride in the back of a truck in other cities and states?

Depending on what state you are in, the answer can range from “Sure, why not?” to “Never!” The problem is that the back of a pickup is designed for carrying cargo, not passengers. The ride would be very rough back there even with moderate vehicle movement.

Therefore, to make sure you are not breaking any law, find out can you ride in the back of a truck legally with this guide. For more useful and interesting facts, consult out comprehensive library of driving tips that any car owner must know.

legal to ride in the back of a truck
Find out whether it’s safe and legal to ride in the back of a truck. (Photo Source: shutterstock)

Can You Ride In The Back Of A Truck?


In general, while it is technically legal in certain situations to ride in the back of your pickup truck, it is not advisable to do so. Since this type of vehicle is not designed to carry passengers, there’s just too much danger involved riding back there with no safety measures.

Hundreds of passengers die every year from riding in the bed of a pickup. As noted, passengers will be subject to a lot of shock even from minor imperfections on the road surface, while they have no seat belts and nothing else on board to secure their positions.

ride in the back of a truck
Riding in the back of a truck is not safe. (Photo Source: hotcars)


In accidents involving a pickup truck, the forces are powerful enough to rip apart, dislocate, and in worse case scenarios, decapitate a full grown adult. It is common for the passengers in the back to be sent flying into the air like a rag doll, then crashing down onto the ground. 

Even without an accident, the occasional jolt when a pickup truck suddenly comes to a stop, takes a sharp turn without warning, or hits a bump is enough to send mindless passengers flying into the air.

truck is it legal to ride in the back
Trucks are designed for cargo transport. (Photo Source: frogcars)

Is Riding In The Back Of A Truck Legal?

In the cases that you are left with little to no choice other than walking, knowing the answer to “Can you ride in the back of a truck?” in the state you’re in might come in handy. 

No matter which country you are in, you will have to check for the certain state or city you’re visiting to be sure. For instance, in the United States, riding in the back of a truck is legal in certain states, mostly in rural areas. Meanwhile, the other states place age restriction on this to protect children and teenagers.

can you ride in the back of a truck
Riding in the back of a truck is generally more accepted in rural areas. (Photo Source: istockphoto)

Legal in Some States

Twenty states have no laws prohibiting riders in the back of pickup trucks. Not surprisingly, the majority of these states are rural areas where pickup trucks are needed for work purposes:

  1. Alabama, 
  2. Alaska, 
  3. Arizona, 
  4. Delaware, 
  5. Idaho, 
  6. Illinois, 
  7. Indiana, 
  8. Iowa, 
  9. Kentucky, 
  10. Minnesota, 
  11. Mississippi, 
  12. Montana, 
  13. New Hampshire, 
  14. North Dakota, 
  15. Oklahoma, 
  16. South Dakota, 
  17. Vermont, 
  18. Washington, 
  19. West Virginia, 
  20. Wyoming.

States with Restrictions

Except for Colorado, which allows back riding as long as the riders are seated and the area is enclosed on all four sides, the remaining states restrict this based on age for the protection of children and teenagers. 

The following states allow back riders older than age 18:

  1. Florida, 
  2. Georgia, 
  3. Maine (older than age 19), 
  4. Michigan, 
  5. Missouri, 
  6. Nebraska, 
  7. Nevada, 
  8. New Mexico, 
  9. Oregon, 
  10. Pennsylvania, 
  11. Texas. 

These states set age 16 as the cutoff point: 

  1. Connecticut, 
  2. Maryland, 
  3. North Carolina, 
  4. Ohio, 
  5. Rhode Island, 
  6. Virginia. 

States with lower age limits: 

  1. Kansas (14), 
  2. Louisiana (12), 
  3. Massachusetts (12), 
  4. South Carolina (15), 
  5. Tennessee (12). 

These states prohibit back riding unless specific conditions are present: 

  1. Wisconsin: allowed if work-related,
  2. Hawaii: if there is no room in the passenger compartment
  3. New York: limited by length of trip and age of passengers.

These states prohibit any back riding:

  1. Arkansas, 
  2. District of Columbia, 
  3. New Jersey, 
  4. Utah,

What About Dogs Riding In The Back Of A Pickup Truck?

pet crate
Use pet crates if you need to transport your pets. (Photo Source: tacomaworld)

A quick study conducted by American Humane reports that over 100,000 dogs die every year due to accidents resulting from riding in pickup truck beds. While it can be dangerous for pets to ride in the back of pickup trucks, state laws are also divided about applying restrictions. 

They share the same threats as humans, such as ejection from the truck’s bed and carbon monoxide poisoning. Additionally, they don’t recognize the dangers involved and can get spooked and jump out when they see something. 

Putting on a leash doesn’t help. Therefore, the rule of thumb is if you have no other option than to let your best friend ride in the back of your hauler, secure them in a commercial pet crate designed for this purpose.