Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Car Safety: What would you have done?

On my drive in to work this morning, I passed a pick-up truck on the interstate with a child riding in the bed of the truck. He looked to be about 11 or 12, and there was one of those cover/roof things attached over the truck bed, though the back window of it was open. It seemed like a dangerous way to be travelling, and I instantly started wondering if I should call the police. Not 911, but the "urgency without emergency" number they advertise on billboards, which I fortunately had entered into my phone once upon a time.

As I was about to dial, however, I started equivocating. It felt like tattling, and I didn't want to make a big deal over something if it wasn't.

Maybe it's not really against the law. The child was well over the age where a child-seat would have been required.

I know seat belts are the law for drivers. Are they mandatory for passengers?

Is it illegal for a human to ride in the bed of a pickup? (as opposed to dogs, which also make me nervous when they're trying to keep their balance, flying along at 75 mph.)

Is it a higher-level misdemeanor than speeding? (which, of course, I was doing at the moment.) In his defense, the driver of the pickup was driving below the speed limit, and I was miles ahead of him as contemplated all these things for the remainder of my commute.

I feel kind of guilty about my possible "sin of omission." I'm at least inspired to learn the local laws regarding child restraint for older children, etc. so I can be confident in my objection next time. (If it had been an infant riding on an adult's lap that I'd witnessed, I wouldn't have hesitated a second!)

What would you have done?


Anonymous said...

It certainly isn't safe, although the legality varies from state-to-state. I don't know if it is legal in your state. I don't think it's necessarily the most dangerous thing, however, if it doesn't feel right to you, next time I would call the police. The fact is is that the driver shouldn't have allowed that (if it is illegal) and getting a traffic violation or even just a warning might dissuade them from that in the future.

Sonya said...

You'd think it would be illegal but it may vary from place to place. Several days at the end of the school year I noticed a child (pre-k) age riding in the bed of a pickup truck as it drove out of the school parking lot! I have always thought it was illegal here (IL) to drive like that for adults, but I would think for a child that should be in a safety seat it would be really illegal. I just don't understand why anyone would ever do that!

Katie Bug said...

As others have already said, seatbelt laws do vary from state to state. Here in Texas, it is now mandatory for all riders to wear a seatbelt.
On issues like this, I figure that it's my job to report what I think is illegal (and endangering a child) and the job of the police force to judge whether or not the action I have reported truly is illegal.
I think you would have been "in the right" if you had called the nonemergency phone number...but if I had been in your shoes I probably would have questioned myself all the way to work, too.

Jessica Miller Kelley said...

Well, I just looked it up for Tennessee, and that is a Class C misdemeanor, and can be considered a primary offense (i.e. you can be stopped just for that, not just an extra ticket when stopped for something else).


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