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Q

Is it legal to have a passenger in the back of a pick-up? I realize it is not a good idea, but what is Oregon Law.


A

It depends upon the circumstances and age of the passengers that are riding in the back (bed) of the pickup truck whether it is legal or not in Oregon to do so.

The Oregon Department of Transportation Safety Division told us that in situations not involving minors, Oregon law states that people can ride in pickup truck beds only if all other seat belts are in use. If passengers are allowed in the back of the truck they cannot hang over the side. OR law requires all motor vehicle operators and passengers be properly secured, unless all seats equipped with seat belts are occupied (see ORS section 811.215). This applies to passenger cars, pickup trucks, motorhomes, and fee-based transports carrying fifteen or fewer people. Vehicle owners are required to keep seat belt systems in working order.

The law for when minors may ride in the back of a pickup truck is different. The OR DOT said that according to Oregon Revised Statute (ORS) 811.205, which is not technically part of the seat belt law, minors are prohibited from riding in the open bed of a pickup unless for certain situations such as they are in an organized parade. They can also be in the back of a truck if they are traveling between hunting camps or hunting sites during hunting season if the youths have hunting licenses.

Other times in which Oregon's law says it is okay for a minor to ride in the bed of a truck is for work, provided the minors are transported in compliance with law and rules regulating transport of workers. In these situations though all available passenger seats in the cab already must be occupied by other minors. The person or people in the back of the truck must be seated on the floor of the bed with the tailgate securely fastened.

The exact wording of this Oregon Statute (811.205) is:

(1) A person commits the offense of carrying a minor on an external part of a motor vehicle if the person carries any person under 18 years of age upon the hood, fender, running board or other external part of any motor vehicle that is upon a highway.

(2) For purposes of this section, the open bed of a motor vehicle is an external part of a motor vehicle.

(3) A person does not commit the offense described in this section if the person:

(a) Is carrying a minor in the open bed of a motor vehicle and the minor is secured with a safety belt or safety harness that complies with rules adopted under ORS 815.055;

(b) Is operating the motor vehicle in an organized parade; or

(c) Is carrying a minor who is seated on the floor of the open bed of a motor vehicle in which all available passenger seats are occupied by minors, the tailgate is securely closed and the minor is being transported:

(A) In the course and scope of employment, provided that the minor is transported in compliance with law and rules regulating the transport of workers; or

(B)(i) Between a hunting camp and a hunting site or between hunting sites during hunting season; and

(ii) The minor has a hunting license.

(4) The offense described in this section, carrying a minor on an external part of a motor vehicle, is a Class B traffic violation.

People tend to only remember that it is okay for people to ride in the back of the pickup if all seats in the cab of the truck are already occupied but that is only a portion of the law as you can read above. In the past, up until 2003, that is how the Oregon law read but it was changed to protect minors better.

We have read the fine for violating ORS 811.205, a Class B traffic violation, is around $250.

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