Is it legal to ride in the back of a pickup truck?

We have all heard stories (or maybe you’ve even done it yourself) about riding in the back of a pickup truck. You may have had some people tell you that it’s illegal, while others may have told you it’s fine. But what is the truth? 

A big part of the confusion about this comes from the fact that Canadian provinces and US states have different laws concerning this. In Texas, for example, riding in the back of a pickup truck is entirely legal as long as the passengers are over the age of 18 and seated on the bottom of the truck bed and not on the sides. 

Some states, including Alabama, Montana, and West Virginia don’t have any restrictions at all when it comes to riding in the back of a pickup truck, while in other states like Arkansas, Utah, and New Jersey, it is completely banned. 

In Canadian provinces such as Ontario and Alberta, it is illegal to have passengers ride in the back of a pickup truck. In these provinces, it has been deemed that since pickup truck beds do not have proper passenger seating (or seat belts), they are off-limits for passengers.

In Saskatchewan, on the other hand, provincial police and RCMP treat the matter differently. Provincial police usually allow passengers in pickup truck beds provided that all the passenger seats inside the truck are full. RCMP, on the other hand, will generally issue a ticket. 

With all these conflicting legislations across different jurisdictions, no wonder the question about the legality of riding in the back of a pickup truck is confusing? 

So, let’s answer a more straightforward question: 

Is it safe to ride in the back of a pickup truck? 

The short answer to this question is NO. 

Even the safest of drivers might have to swerve or come to a sudden stop. This can cause injury to passengers without seatbelts who are inside the vehicle. So, imagine the harm it can cause to passengers who are in the truck bed! 

If a truck is hit from behind, the vehicle that hit it can get stuck underneath the back of the truck bed and cause it to lift. This, in turn, can cause anything that is unsecured (including passengers) to be launched forward and even catapulted out of the truck. And in a situation where there is a rollover, passengers will either be thrown from the vehicle or crushed under it. 

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, passengers riding in the back of a pickup truck are three times more likely to be killed in an accident than passengers riding in the truck cab.

Here at BACKRACK™, we value the safety of our customers and do not advocate that passengers ride in any truck bed – whether they are in a jurisdiction that allows it or not. Instead, please use your truck bed for the purpose it was intended. To transport items and equipment for life, work and play!