North Carolina has laws concerning vehicle passenger restraints and also has restrictions that apply to passengers riding outside of the vehicle interior. This article explains when a passenger or pet can ride in the bed of a pickup truck in North Carolina and the penalties for a violation.
North Carolina’s seatbelt laws require all vehicle occupants to be properly restrained by a seatbelt or child safety seat. Children under 16 years old are also prohibited from riding in an open bed or cargo area of any moving vehicle (without a hardtop cover) on a public highway. Exceptions to this rule exist if the child is supervised by an adult, is properly restrained in a federally-approved car seat, or is during an emergency. However, children are generally allowed on parade floats and hayrides. There are no restrictions prohibiting passengers 16 years or older from riding in a truck bed.
While restrictions exist for human passengers in the bed of a pickup truck, no such statutes exist for animal passengers. The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends that pets be secured either by a kennel in the truck bed or by a harness inside the cab.