Alabama politicians said Tuesday that they would consider drafting legislation to prevent people from riding in the backs of pickup trucks in the wake of a rollover accident near Guntersville.
U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Anniston, told AL.com Tuesday that it’s foolish for Alabama to be one of a few states in the country allowing people to ride in the cargo bed of pickup trucks.
Alabama has laws requiring children under the age of 15 to wear a seatbelt, but Rogers said the law doesn’t go far enough and only applies to people riding inside the vehicle, not in truck bed.
“If you have a 3-year-old child, they have to be in a child restraint if they’re inside the truck. If you put them in the cargo bed and go down the interstate at 70 miles per hour, there’s no law against that,” he told AL.com.
State troopers have said they believe the existing law would prohibit anyone under the age of 15 from riding unrestrained in a truck bed.
Rogers’ comment comes after a pickup truck carrying a group of children overturned and burst into flames on a highway near Guntersville on Sunday afternoon. Everyone riding in the cab and bed of the truck was ejected and four were dead as of Tuesday.
Republican State Reps. Wayne Johnson and Kerry Rich also say they’d consider bills to prohibit riding in truck beds.
Johnson, R-Ryland, said he’d consider pre-filing a bill on the matter before the next legislative session.
“I think it will be a very good bill and should pass. It should be worth a very good, stiff effort from us so we can make sure something like (Sunday’s wreck) doesn’t happen again,” he said.
State Rep. Kerry Rich, R-Albertville, said he would seriously consider a bill after consulting with other lawmakers to ensure the proposed legislation is worthy of support.
“I would want to be careful not to restrict people riding in the back of a pickup doing farm work and not having so many restrictions where a church group or some other group couldn’t have hayrides,” he said.
Rogers tried passing a bill on the issue in 1998.
“I had opposition from everybody,” he said. “The Farmers Federation was against it because they wanted to move workers in the field. So I made an exception to allow them on farms.”
Others complained they needed to use truck beds to transport players in youth sports.
Rogers tried compromising to make it legal for anyone 12 and older to ride in the back of trucks except on highways, but the Alabama Department of Public Safety said the law would be too difficult to enforce.
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