In New Madrid and throughout Missouri, it's not uncommon to see people riding in the back of a pickup truck, especially during the spring and summer months: in fact, many of us have probably ridden in truck beds ourselves. And yet many people don't know what Missouri law says with respect to this issue. As temperatures turn warmer, our New Madrid car accident lawyers want to make sure drivers are well informed about the safety issues and state laws that affect passengers riding in truck beds.
Is it safe to ride in the back of a truck?
Part of the safety of a vehicle is based on design. Cars, vans, and SUVs are described as 5 passenger, 9 passenger, etc. Vehicles are described in this way because they're designed to safely restrain and protect a specific number of people in the event of an accident. When you carry more passengers than a vehicle is designed to protect - and especially when those passengers are riding in a truck bed - it's much more likely that people will sustain serious injuries, if an accident occurs.
Consider the outcome of these recent accidents:
Audrain County, Missouri: October 2011
Twelve people were injured - and another person later died - after a 2002 Dodge truck carrying all of them veered off the road and then rolled several times. The accident occurred on Audrain County Road 435, near Mexico, Missouri. The driver was traveling at a high rate of speed and lost control of the vehicle: he traveled off the left side of the road, hit a mailbox, and then careened back onto the roadway, overturning several times. 9 of the passengers were riding in the bed of the pickup and 2 were riding in the cab. All 11 passengers were ejected. No one was wearing a seat belt.
All of the passengers were transported to University Hospital in Columbia via 4 helicopters and 5 ambulances. A passenger died at the hospital, and 6 others sustained serious injuries. The driver subsequently faced multiple charges, including involuntary manslaughter, assault, and endangering the welfare of a child: 2 passengers were children under age 11.
Tuscola County, Michigan: December 2011
A 23 year-old man rolled his pickup truck onto its side while driving through a field: 3 passengers riding in the bed were ejected, and all 3 were seriously injured. 4 occupants of the cab, including the driver, were unharmed, and the driver was arrested on charges of DWI.
Salt Lake County, Utah: February 2012
A 16 year-old remains in critical condition after he fell from the bed of a moving truck. Police report that the teen initially decided to get into the back of the truck by climbing through the passenger window. At some point, the driver looked back to check on the passenger, then swerved, then overcorrected. The teen was ejected and suffered serious head injuries.