Commercial truck drivers drive the large semis we see on the highway that transport goods across the country. If you see a driver with a guest passenger in his cab, you might think it’s nice for him to have some company along for the ride. However, depending on the company that he drives for, having a guest can be a perk or a violation of company guidelines. Trucking companies have different rules for allowing passengers.
Liberal Family Rider Policy
Liberal guest rider policies are those that allow the driver to bring any number or type of guests along for the ride, including family, friends and even pets. However, under these types of policies, the trucking company may be held liable if the driver has an accident and his guests are injured – especially if the cab was overcrowded and the passengers didn’t have independent seat belts. Liberal rider policies are hard to find because most companies aren’t willing to accept the liability, though some family-friendly trucking companies allow them.
Limited Guest Rider Policies
Insurance companies suggest that trucks have no passengers to limit the overall liability of the company; however, some companies offer passenger policies as a job benefit. Others believe the drivers may invite people anyway and had rather control the invites than not know. Because of this, many companies have limited guest rider policies, which allow the driver to invite driving companions when they meet a certain set of specifications, which differs from one company to another.
- Number of passengers: Most trucking companies and their insurance representatives limit the number of allowable passengers inside the truck cab to one at a time. In a normal trucking cab, a single passenger will still have all safety features available to them.
- Relation to the driver: Most policies allow only family members comprising immediate spouse, partner or children. In some cases, close friends or extended relatives are given permission to ride, but it depends on the company.
- Age of the passenger: Most policies require children to be over the age of 12 to limit the risk of injury to a young child in case of an accident.
- Permission from the company: Many companies are willing to grant riding privileges if the driver requests them – in writing – ahead of time. Having written permission helps limit liabilities in the case of unexpected passengers. When the drivers request permission, the company can remind them about the insurance clauses and company policies.
Keep in mind that this last point is actually the sole requirement listed by the Department of Transportation (DOT) in the United States: documented permission from the company that allows you to have a passenger ride the truck, normally for a specific start and end time or date.
Passenger Rules and Requirements
Additionally, in most cases, the passenger is not legally allowed to drive the truck in question, nor are they allowed to assist with any loading, unloading, or other business functions of the truck and its payload. This, again, is a liability issue; if an untrained passenger were to attempt to help and injure themselves, the company could be deemed responsible in a court of law and face liability.
While it’s true that legally, only those with a commercial driving license related to the vehicle in question should be driving the truck, occasionally family, friends and other passengers may want to try it. This, again, can lead to critical safety risks and the possibility of liability for the truck company.
Danielle Smyth is a writer and content marketer from upstate New York. She holds a Master of Science in Publishing from Pace University. Her experience includes years of work in the insurance, workers compensation, disability, and background investigation fields. She has written on legal topics for a number of other clients. She owns her own content marketing agency, Wordsmyth Creative Content Marketing, and enjoys writing legal articles and blogs for clients in related industries.