Riding in the back of pickup trucks sometimes feels like a southern tradition. Most of us have probably done it at one time or another. It brings to mind many things from summer nights under the stars to hard working farm hands. But, it can also be deadly. The death of an 11 year old boy thrown from the bed of his grandmothers Ford F-150 this Tuesday is a sad reminder of this.
Their truck was hit as the Grandmother attempted to turn onto Howard Gap Road in Hendersonville. His 6 year old brother was also riding in the truck bed but, miraculously, suffered only minor injuries.
Eight children under 16 riding in the beds of pickups were killed from 2002-2006 in North Carolina and 127 were seriously injured, said Tom Vitaglione, co-chair of the Child Fatality Task Force. The legislative study commission successfully pushed last year for a strengthening of the truck bed law.
Many of the injured suffered brain injuries and face lifelong disabilities, he said.
“If there is a crash, they are totally unprotected,” Vitaglione said.
North Carolina law only restricts persons under the age of 16 from riding in pick up truck beds, but this activity is a danger for all ages. Only a motorcyclist has as much of their body exposed, and at least they are required to wear protective gear. According to the NHTSA, close to half of all truck bed injuries are not from collisions, and even if the bed has a canopy, passengers can be thrown out.
No one should ride in the bed of a truck. It is so dangerous that putting a child in that situation is illegal. But, regardless of the law, it is just not safe. Death is much more serious than any traffic citation. Be careful, keep your children safe, and stay alive.