South Carolina Law on Passengers and Pets in Pickup Trucks

The laws regarding who or what can ride in a pickup truck bed in South Carolina.

South Carolina has rules regarding seatbelts and child restraints inside vehicles as well as rules governing passengers outside of the vehicle interior. This article explains the law that applies to the transportation of passengers and pets in the back of a pickup truck.

Passengers in Truck Beds

South Carolina’s seatbelt law requires all vehicle occupants to wear a seatbelt. The law also requires children under eight years old to use a child safety seat.

The law in South Carolina regarding truck-bed passengers is somewhat unclear. Children under 15 years old are prohibited from riding in the bed of a truck or trailer unless one of the exceptions applies (see below). For teenagers ages 15 to 18, there’s no explicit prohibition on riding in a truck bed, but doing so may lead to a seatbelt violation. And adults in the bed of a truck won’t likely be ticketed but do so at their own risk to personal injury.

For children who are eight to 15 years old, riding in the bed of an open truck bed or trailer is allowed only:

  • if an adult is present in the bed supervising the child
  • if the child is restrained by a properly-installed, federally-approved car seat
  • when participating in a permit-authorized hayride or parade
  • when an emergency exists
  • during hunting or agricultural pursuits
  • in a rural county (no incorporated area with a population of more than 3,500 people), or
  • when the tailgate is closed and the vehicle is driving less than 36 miles per hour.

Permitting an unlawful truck bed passenger carries a $25 fine and is a misdemeanor. However, these violations won’t lead to insurance surcharges or license points.

Pets in Truck Beds

South Carolina law doesn’t prohibit the transportation of animals in truck beds. However, it may be possible for some unrestrained pet situations to result in an animal abuse or a distracted driving charge. In any case, 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.

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