Ask a Dispatcher
Q. I'm familiar with seatbelt laws and car seat laws, but I don't know the answer to this question: What are the laws concerning passengers in the bed of a truck? Without a canopy? With a canopy?
Dear Juneau Resident,
This is a surprisingly tough question. You would think there would be an easy, short answer but there isn't. There are exceptions to the seatbelt law. School buses are one. Another exception is vehicles without seatbelts and the seatbelts were not removed for the purpose of avoiding the seatbelt/childseat laws. See CBJ ordiance 72.10.160 at the end of this answer.
Yes, the last exception is big enough to drive a pickup with people in the back through it. However, police do have other laws to work with to address dangerous behavior. The driver can be charged with everything from reckless endangerment to manslaughter depending on the specifics of the situation. A canopy may or may not make a difference when analyzing how reckless the driver was or what risk was disregarded by the driver. Basically, if someone unrestrained in the back of a pickup you are driving gets hurt, you are probably in big trouble since a reasonable person would know that the situation created risk for the passengers.
Ironically, laws about dogs in the back of vehicles are very specific. See CBJ ordinance 72.10.130 below. Dog lovers hate the idea of a dog flying through the air after a collision, but are there people who would take the same risk with their kids, family, and friends? Yes.
72.10.160 - Use of seat belts and child safety devices.
(a)Except as provided in (c) of this section, a person:
(1)16 years of age or older may not occupy a motor vehicle while being driven unless restrained by a safety belt; and
(2)may not operate a motor vehicle unless restrained by a safety belt.
(b)Except as provided in (c) of this section, a driver may not transport a child under the age of 16 in a motor vehicle unless the driver has provided the required safety device and properly secured each child as described in this subsection. If the child is less than four years of age, the child shall be properly secured in a child safety device meeting the standards of the United States Department of Transportation. If the child is four but not yet 16 years of age, the child shall be properly secured in a child safety device approved for a child of that age and size by the United States Department of Transportation or in a safety belt, whichever is appropriate for the particular child.
(c)Subsections (a) and (b) do not apply to:
(1)passengers in a school bus, unless the school bus is required to be equipped with seat belts by the United States Department of Transportation, or an emergency vehicle;
(2)a vehicle operator acting in the course of employment delivering mail or newspapers from inside the vehicle to roadside mail or newspaper boxes;
(3)a person or class of persons exempted by the State of Alaska regulation under AS 28.05.096; or
(4)a person required to be restrained by safety belts under (a) or (b) of this section if the motor vehicle is not equipped with safety belts.
(d)A person may not remove a safety belt from a vehicle solely to be exempted under (c)(4) of this section.
72.10.130 - Carrying dogs on outside of vehicles.
It is unlawful for any person to transport any living dog on the running board, fenders, hood, cargo bed, or other outside part of any vehicle, unless the dog is restrained or confined by a leash, harness, cage, enclosure or other restrictive device designed, installed, maintained and employed in a manner adequate to:
(1)Protect the dog from falling or being thrown from the vehicle;
(2)Prevent the dog from approaching within one foot of the tailgate, side rail or other outside part of the vehicle; and
(3)Permit the safe operation of the vehicle.