Herb Rice is looking to buy a new vehicle for his growing farm operations.  He has his eye on a 2012 Ford F-150 pick-up truck with a cab seating capacity of three.  During planting season, Herb routinely transports up to seven workers between his fields.  Accordingly, some workers will have to ride in the back of his pickup.  Is transporting people in the bed of a pickup truck illegal in Texas?

It depends (we seem to say that a lot).  There are no Texas laws that restrict Herb from transporting adults. It is illegal to transport anyone under the age of 18 in the bed of a pick-up.  However (as almost always), there are several exceptions which permit even children in Texas to ride in the bed of a pickup truck:

  1. if the pickup is the only vehicle owned or operated by members of the household; or
  2. in an emergency situation; or
  3. in connection with a hayride or parade; or
  4. on a beach; or
  5. if they are a farm worker and are being transported from one field to another on a farm-to-market road, ranch-to-market road or county road outside of a municipality.

An offense under Texas Transportation Code 545.414 is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of between $25 and $200.

A little Texas trivia:  The terms Farm-to-Market Road and Ranch-to-Market Road indicate roadways that are part of the state’s system of secondary and connecting routes, built and maintained by the Texas Department of Transportation.  This system was established in 1949 as a project to provide access to rural areas. The system consists primarily of paved, two-lane roads. Generally, roads found west of US 281 (or Interstate 35 in some locations) are designated Ranch to Market Roads, while those located east of US 281 are designated Farm to Market Roads.  Texas’ first Farm-to-Market road connected the town of Mount Enterprise with the former community of Shiloh in Rusk County.