Traffic Tip: Riding in open beds

This week's traffic law is found in The Texas Transportation Code, Sec. 545.414. Riding in open beds; offense.

(a) A person commits an offense if the person operates an open-bed pickup truck or an open flatbed truck or draws an open flatbed trailer when a child younger than 18 years of age is occupying the bed of the truck or trailer.

(b) An offense under this section is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not less than $25 or more than $200.

(c) It is a defense to prosecution under this section that the person was:

(1) operating or towing the vehicle in a parade or in an emergency;

(2) operating the vehicle to transport farm workers from one field to another field on a farm-to-market road, ranch-to-market road, or county road outside a municipality;

(3) operating the vehicle on a beach;

(4) operating a vehicle that is the only vehicle owned or operated by the members of a household; or

(5) operating the vehicle in a hayride permitted by the governing body of or a law enforcement agency of each county or municipality in which the hayride will occur.

(d) Compliance or noncompliance with Subsection (a) is not admissible evidence in a civil trial.

(e) In this section, "household" has the meaning assigned by Section 71.005, Family Code.

Why the emphasis on this particular traffic law?

This is to remind all pickup truck owners that not only is it unsafe to allow children to ride in the bed of the truck but it is also against traffic law. If a child under the age of 18 is riding in the back of your pickup truck you may be stopped, issued a citation, or even arrested. Unless under the above special circumstances, keep all children within the passenger compartment of the vehicle and seat belted properly.

The Victoria Police Department reminds you to drive safe, and obey all the traffic laws. The life you save may be your own.

If you have a traffic law question, contact Senior Patrol Officer Zac De La Rosa, Victoria Police Department Traffic Safety Unit, 361-485-3700.