By Jedidiah McKeehan

Something you do not see too often anymore is kids riding in the back of trucks, which is a good thing.  It is always better to be safe, especially when children are involved, and have them ride inside of the vehicle in the appropriate car seat.  However, is having kids, or for that matter, adults, ride in a truck bed illegal?

Well, Tennessee Code Annotated section 55-8-189 addresses this very issue.  It is a class C misdemeanor for someone to transport a child under the age of 6 on any road in the bed of a truck.

However, a person commits a Class C misdemeanor if they transport a child between the ages of 6 and 12 in the bed of a truck while driving on an interstate or a state highway.

Now, this statute is kind of irrelevant because there are now laws in place that require that children remain in appropriate car seats until they reach a certain age or weight.  Further, cities and counties are entitled to act their own statutes to require more stringent laws in regard to this issue.

There is no state restriction or punishment under this statute for anyone above 12 riding in the bed of the truck (however, you still have to contend with the Tennessee seat belt law in some instances).

There is one exception to this rule.  Children are allowed to be transported in the bed of a truck if the truck is part of a parade, and the vehicle is traveling less than 20 miles per hour.

Bottom line, most of this statute is irrelevant with other laws that we now have in place in Tennessee, but it is still on the books.

Jedidiah McKeehan is an attorney practicing in Knox County and surrounding counties.  He works in many areas, including criminal, personal injury, landlord-tenant, probate, and estate planning. Visit for more information about this legal issue and other legal issues.