August 10, 2023
5 min read
When you begin your career as a commercial truck driver, you’ll soon realize that life on the road can be quite isolating. The hours are long, and some drivers spend more than a week away from home. This situation often leads truck drivers to wonder whether they can bring their family members, such as a child, on the road with them. Are truckers allowed to have their family accompany them during over-the-road trips?
In most cases, the answer is yes. However, there are various factors that can affect the feasibility of having a child passenger on board.
There are no existing federal or state laws prohibiting the presence of a child as a passenger in a commercial truck. Nevertheless, it is imperative to exercise caution and not assume that you can take your child on a ride in your truck.
The specific policies regarding passengers vary across different trucking companies, ultimately dictating the number of individuals permitted in a semi-truck. Certain companies impose an age restriction, typically requiring passengers to be 18 years old or older. These age limitations prioritize safety and safeguard younger individuals who may lack the necessary maturity and comprehension within such an environment.
Should you desire to bring your child along in your commercial truck, it is crucial to consider three essential factors.
Getting supplementary insurance coverage from your company or insurance provider is important when planning a trip with your child. Typically, companies will request your endorsement on a waiver that absolves your employer of any potential legal liabilities in the event of injury to the child while inside the truck.
The regulations regarding seat belt usage differ across states, but in most states, safety belts are mandatory for all passengers occupying the front seats of a vehicle. Similarly, car seat laws also differ from state to state. It’s important to note that these laws apply not only to conventional cars but also to trucks.
If you are employed as a driver for a company, it is important to ensure compliance with the Department of Transportation (DoT) regulations. Per the DoT guidelines, you must possess valid written authorization from your motor carrier to transport passengers. Your employer should retain this authorization while keeping a duplicate copy in your possession during your driving duties is advisable.
The ability to have a passenger in your truck while driving depends on various factors, primarily the policies of the company you work for. Although federal law doesn’t prohibit child passengers in commercial trucks, individual trucking companies may have regulations to ensure safety and protect all parties involved.
Each company has its passenger policies, so it is crucial to inquire about your company’s guidelines. Some common examples of passenger policies include disclosing travel details such as dates, itineraries, and destinations, obtaining company-approved passenger insurance, fulfilling a minimum tenure requirement as a driver, and setting an age requirement for passengers.
In addition, getting written authorization from your employer before allowing your child to ride in your truck is important. Riding in a commercial truck without proper authorization is not only against company policy but also a violation of the law. Getting authorization usually entails you filling out paperwork and might necessitate child passengers to complete documents like insurance information.
That said, if you are an owner-operator, you have more freedom than truckers working for larger companies. As the truck owner, you can establish your own rules regarding passengers. However, ensuring your child has adequate insurance coverage remains essential before the journey starts. It is advisable to consult with your insurance company.
Have you considered your child’s safety before letting them ride in your truck? Unlike regular cars, most semi-trucks do not have airbags in the cab, which might make you think it’s safer for your child to sit in the front seat. However, it’s important not to overlook their safety. According to federal law, all children under 12 must be seated in a car seat or booster seat while the vehicle is in motion and should not be in the path of an airbag.
Let’s clarify: it is illegal for a child to ride in a truck without the appropriate safety measures! Older children should use a seat belt, while younger children require a booster or car seat. Regardless of the limited space in the truck’s cab, you must prioritize your child’s safety. Ensure they are always in a car seat when riding in your truck.
To ensure a child’s safety while traveling in a semi-truck, paying close attention to detail and following safety guidelines when securing a car seat is crucial. Proper car seat installation is essential to maximize safety for your child during the journey.
While most child safety seats are designed for back seats in conventional cars, you may wonder how to install a car seat in a truck without a back seat. Although installing a car seat in a cab with limited space can be challenging, it is not impossible to have a child ride in a single cab truck while using a car seat. Remember that keeping your child in a booster seat or a properly installed car seat can make a significant difference in the event of an accident.
Here are some things to keep in mind when installing a child’s seat on the front seat of your truck.
It is important to consistently adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions and refer to the guidelines established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) when securing the car seat inside the cabin of a semi-truck for your child. Make a habit of regularly inspecting the car seat to verify that it remains securely fastened throughout the entire journey.
You have taken the necessary steps to allow your child to ride in the front seat of your single-cab truck. You have completed the required paperwork, spoken to your insurance provider, and installed a car seat. Is there anything else you need to consider?
Now keep in mind that having a passenger, especially a baby or a child, in your truck changes the dynamic of your journey compared to traveling alone. Thinking about handling life on the road with a child as your passenger is crucial.
Here are some of the things to keep in mind when your child is riding with you:
Ensuring your child’s comfort should be one of your top priorities during the ride. Consider how long they can stay comfortable in the small cab of a truck. Keep in mind that children require more active time than adults. It’s a good idea to plan for more frequent stops along the way, allowing your child to stretch, move around, and take breaks, particularly after a long drive.
How will you ensure the safety of your baby or child while on the road? We have already discussed the importance of car seats and other safety measures during the ride, but there’s more to consider. It is also crucial to prioritize your child’s safety during stops and breaks at restaurants, truck stops, and your final destination. Always watch your child closely to ensure their safety, regardless of where you are.
While it may not be possible to completely revamp your itinerary to cater to your child’s every moment, that doesn’t mean you can’t still have fun together! Take the time to plan out interesting places to stop along your journey or drive through scenic areas. Additionally, prepare or pack activities to enjoy together in the truck during the ride, such as books, games, music, or podcasts.
There are several reasons to consider bringing your child along for your next trip. For some parents, particularly single parents, it may be a necessity. Others choose to accompany their children to battle loneliness while on the road. However, the primary motivation behind including your children is the priceless experience it offers.
Trucking with your child provides an opportunity for in-person bonding and encompasses so much more. It allows your kids to witness firsthand what you do for a living and exposes them to the thrill of riding in a large truck. It opens up new and exciting places for them to explore and discover. Most importantly, it creates enduring memories you will cherish for a lifetime.
Moreover, having a child present in certain trucking situations can be highly advantageous for a driver. Some companies or clients experiencing a challenging day may enjoy seeing a young person accompanying the driver, which could help improve their mood. Additionally, clients may better understand that drivers are individuals with families to support. Offering a firsthand glimpse into why a driver works (i.e., their family) can provide other customers or clients with alternative perspectives on the trucking culture.
Above all, it is crucial to assess your child’s happiness while on the road. While it may not always be feasible to change your route or risk delaying a delivery due to your child’s unhappiness, drivers should prioritize their well-being and make efforts to keep them content and entertained. Similarly, if it becomes apparent that a child is not suitable for a road trip, drivers should refrain from forcing them into that situation.
Traveling with a child in a truck can be a great way to stay connected with one’s family and create cherished memories. The indelible memories of a journey with their mother or father will remain etched in your child’s mind forever. The unwavering commitment demonstrated by their parents as truck drivers will have a profound and enduring impact.
At FleetCare, we prioritize the well-being of our truckers in every possible way. Whether it involves assisting with dispatcher services, ensuring compliance with FMCSA/DoT requirements, or addressing your frequently asked questions, we are here to support you.
We aim to help you become a better and more successful truck driver. Regardless of your location or driving routes, you can rely on FleetCare to provide the resources, knowledge, and support necessary for your journey.