Officers ask you to be careful in the back of your pick-up

by Hema Mullur
NewsWest 9

"You have no seatbelts, you have no airbags, you have no protection," said Trooper John Barton.  "If that vehicle rolls over, people can get thrown out."

If you're over the age of 18 riding in a truck bed is perfectly legal, no matter how unsafe it may be.

"If you had someone in the back of the pick up truck at 30 miles per hour, they become a flying object," Barton said.  "They're going to continue going at 35 miles per hour when they hit the ground."

Click it or Ticket is in full force, but riding loose in a truck bed doesn't apply.

"When we look at Click it or Ticket, the way the law states, if they're occupying a position that has a seatbelt, then they have to be wearing that seatbelt."

But he agrees, "There is a big loophole when it comes to occupant protection."

And it's not just people who suffer.

"You've got to look at pets the same way as humans," he said.  "If you have to hit your brakes or swerve or you're in a vehicle crash, that animal itself is going to be thrown out of the vehicle."

Veterinarian Jennifer Johnson has seen her share of mishaps.

"The dog that came in and had to be euthanized, he came in and his rear leg was ripped off.  I mean there was nothing there," she recalled.  "Sometimes you see people have them on a chain.  That's going to keep them tethered, but if they go over the side what you've just done is you've hung your dog, and I've seen that happen a couple of times."

Pets or people, these experts say there's no safe way to ride in a truck bed.

"Not really," said Barton.  "But it's a lot more safe if you're down below in the bed as compared to sitting up on a toolbox or on the side."

As for the pets, "Have your crate mounted, or attached to the back of the truck.  They have pet seatbelts if your dog will sit upright you can put the seatbelt right over them."

The bottom line, legal or not, when it comes to riding in truck beds use common sense, or don't do it at all.

"Me, myself personally, no one rides in the back of my pick up truck," said Barton.  "We recommend to everyone that if you don't need to transport anyone in the back of that vehicle, do not do it, make it as a last resort."