Federal laws have standards in place to protect people from injuries in a car crash—seat belts, crumple zones, head rests, and air bags. However, those laws do not apply to cargo areas such as beds of pickup trucks. If a person is riding in a cargo area unrestrained, he may be thrown from the vehicle even at low speeds. In order to ensure safety, states have their own laws governing where and how people must be restrained while traveling in a vehicle.
Rhode Island Laws: Riding in Truck Beds and Cargo Areas
Under Rhode Island law, seat belts are required to be worn by all drivers and passengers age 18 and older. However, there are circumstances when a person may ride in a truck bed, delivery van, or other area of a vehicle that was designed to carry cargo.
Riding in the bed of a truck is permitted in the state for:
- People over 16. People may only ride in the back of a pickup truck if they are over age 16. In addition, passengers are restricted to the cargo area itself and are prohibited from riding on hoods, roofs, fenders, or other parts of the vehicle not designed for passengers.
- People under 16. People under age 16 may only ride in a truck bed if they are secured by a passenger restraint.
- Pets and animals. Rhode Island law specifically prohibits carrying animals in the cargo space of an open-air motor vehicle unless the animal is in an enclosed area, is under the direct physical control of a person other than the driver of the vehicle, or is safely restrained and harnessed using a method other than a neck restraint. Violating this law is cause for a fine of $50 to $100, which increases to $200 for each subsequent offense.
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