ASK A COP — How old must a passenger be to legally ride on a truck bed?

Published 12:04 am Tuesday, March 14, 2023

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Lloyd from Port Arthur asks: Some time ago around Christmas I was transporting some of my younger family members to a family gathering. I’ll admit that I had approximately 10 children ranging from 5-15 in the bed of my truck. I drove approximately 20 mph for about a mile on a back street. When I arrived to the gathering, my know-it-all sister started yelling at me, telling me I endangered those children on that back of the truck, because it’s against the law to transport children who are not 17 years of age. Is it true that you have to be 17 or above to ride on the back of a pickup?

Answer: I’m sure you had no intentions on placing any of your younger family members in danger, but ignorance of the law often is the cause of injury and death on the roads of Texas. Your sister was wrong on the minimum age requirement to ride in the bed of a pickup in Texas. The age is 18, not 17. There are certain exceptions to this law: i.e. parades, beaches, only family vehicle operated by member of household. I’m sure you didn’t intentionally put the children in harm’s way, but ignorance to driving laws often leads to injury and even death! That’s why I thank you for reaching out for a better understanding of the law.

Franklin from Port Arthur asks: I was wondering the other day about the Google driver-less cars on the road. Now if you need a driver’s license to legally operate a vehicle on the roads of Texas, shouldn’t that mean that a DRIVER needs to be in the car behind the steering wheel in Texas? Is it legal to be on the road in Texas with a driver-less vehicle, is it safe? A year or so ago, I saw a Google vehicle on Memorial Boulevard, but I didn’t turn around to see if it had a driver. Are these types of self-driven vehicles legal in Texas?

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Answer: Get ready for change because autonomous (driverless) vehicles are legal in Texas, and the demand will only increase for this new technology. This driving system is far more advanced than many Texas motorists are ready for. Don’t feel like you’re on an island.  Texas law sets the owner of the automated car as the vehicle’s legal operator and allows the driving system to be the entity licensed to operate the vehicle. Texas Senate Bill 2205 requires driverless vehicles used on highways be capable of complying with all traffic laws, equipped with video recording devices and insured just like other cars. It also makes the manufacturer responsible for any broken traffic laws or wrecks, as long as the automated driving system hasn’t been modified by anyone else. Here’s the catch, data seems to suggest autonomous cars MAY be safer than cars driven by humans. Most car crashes are caused by HUMAN error. Self-driving cars follow set rules, while human drivers can be unpredictable. This can make self-driving cars safer or more dangerous, depending on the situation. Google announced its driverless cars covered more than 700,000 miles (1.12 million kilometres) without a recorded accident caused by one of its vehicles — one of Google’s driver-less vehicles was hit from behind, but the other driver was at fault. In Texas you don’t have to have an driver behind the wheel of a motor vehicle and still comply with state of Texas law.

Jack from Port Neches asks: The other day I was traveling on Jimmy Johnson Boulevard approaching the Twin City Highway intersection to turn left. When my light turned green, I proceeded to enter in the intersection, only to find myself in a near collision with another vehicle. That vehicle was turning off Twin City onto Jimmy Johnson thandat ran a red light because an ambulance was behind it with its emergency lights on. Who would have been at fault if I would’ve collided with the other vehicle?

Answer: The scenario you described is where you legally entered an intersection and were almost struck by another vehicle. Even though the other vehicle was moving out of the way of an emergency vehicle, you still had the right of way. We need to keep in mind, even if we’re giving way to an emergency vehicle, the movement must be done safely. Also, no one can authorize you to run a RED light in Texas but a police officer. If the vehicle felt the urgency to get out of the way of the ambulance with its emergency lights on, the driver should’ve put the right turn signal on and turned right. If the ambulance had an emergency, it would have activated its emergency siren. So from what I see sir, you did correctly and the other vehicle would have been the fault vehicle. But thankfully a crash did NOT occur!

Join Me, Officer Antoine and the CREW Stephen “Buzzard Boots” Mosley, Lelo “mouth of Hwy 69/73” I Washington & Tejas “Lil Man”Morning Star for Ask A Cop live on KSAP 96.9 FM The Breeze every Tuesday from 1 to 3 p.m. and beyond. Call in questions at 409-982-0247. You can also email questions to or leave a voicemail at 409-983-8673. Mail them to Ofc. Rickey Antoine, 645 4th Street, Port Arthur, Texas, 77640. If you happen to see me in public, you can always “Ask A Cop!”