According to North Carolina General Statute 20-135.2B, it is illegal to transport a child under the age of 16 years in the open bed or open cargo area of a vehicle. An “open bed” or “open cargo area” is defined as one “without permanent overhead restraining construction” –which pretty well covers the open bed of a pickup truck.
The law provides a few important exceptions to that rule. It’s OK if an adult is also in the cargo bed, supervising the child. It’s OK if the child is wearing a seat belt that complies with Federal Safety Standard No. 208. It’s OK if the vehicle (which includes floats as well as pickups) is operated in a parade (and is, presumably, moving very slowly). It’s OK if the vehicle is providing transportation on a farm or other “agricultural enterprise.” Plus, it’s OK in an “emergency situation” — say, if you’re taking an injured child to a doctor or hospital.
The questioner also threw us a loop, wondering whether it’s legal to ride in a boat that’s being towed or trailered. According to the N.C. Highway Patrol, a boat on the road and the truck towing it count as one “vehicle” under state law. Thus, riding in an open boat while being towed would be the same as sitting in an “open bed” or “open cargo area,” and the same legal restrictions (no passengers younger than 16, unless accompanied by a supervising adult) would seem to apply.
Date posted: July 15, 2009
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