Ocean City Eyes Pickup Truck Law Change


OCEAN CITY – The Town of Ocean City is considering outlawing passengers from riding in the back of pickup trucks.

According to Ocean City Police Lt. Scott Harner, on Oct. 1 the state enacted several laws to increase seatbelt usage by expanding the requirements under the law, and Harner proposed an ordinance to enact in Ocean City where passengers would be prohibited to ride in the unenclosed portion of a vehicle, such as the bed of a pickup truck.

“In my tenure here, I have witnessed an increase of people in unenclosed areas of vehicles. I have a great concern for people in the unenclosed portions of vehicles as they travel down Coastal Hwy,” Harner said. “I have seen people standing up in unenclosed portions of vehicles, people sitting on the side rails of vehicles, people sitting in lawn chairs in unenclosed portions of vehicles. I don’t think it takes a collision reconstructionist to imagine the likelihood of not only what would happen to them in a crash but at 40 miles per hour if that vehicle comes to a sudden stop, certainly everything in that vehicle is going to continue forward at 40 mph … the likelihood for injury is assured.”

Ocean City Police Captain Kevin Kirstein added it is not only about those who are ejected from a vehicle’s unenclosed area at the time of a collision but also the safety of those who become the crash zone of the passengers ejected.

The seat belt law for Maryland states, “Seat belts required for driver and all passengers age 16 and older. Violation of the seat belt law in the backseat is a secondary offense. Other violations of the seat belt law are standard offenses. Riding in the cargo area of a pickup truck is not permitted for persons under age 16 if the vehicle is traveling more than 25 mph; proper child restraints are still required; some other exceptions apply.”

According to the State Highway Administration (SHA), some jurisdictions, such as Anne Arundel County, have local ordinances that prohibit anyone from riding in the bed of an unenclosed pickup truck. Anne Arundel County’s law came into effect following an accident in 1979 when 10 teens riding in the back of a pickup truck were killed in Gambrills.

Under Section 90 of Anne Arundel County Code titled, Passengers in unenclosed areas of motor vehicles, states, “It shall be unlawful for a person to ride in or allow another person to ride in an unenclosed area of a motor vehicle except in a seat with a seat belt in use. The penalty upon violation is punishable by a fine of $50.

“It is straight forward and simple,” Harner said.

According to Ocean City Police Captain Michael Colbert, the state has not outlawed passengers from riding in unenclosed portions of vehicles due to the agricultural aspect.

“They wouldn’t be able to have workers in the back of a pickup truck to ride down a country road to the next farm area,” he said.

Harner reminded the commission the next step would have the proposed ordinance reviewed by City Solicitor Guy Ayres, who could insert the appropriate language, such as excluding town approved special events, such as holiday parades.

“I think it is a great idea,” OCPD Chief Ross Buzzuro said. “I think it would help us out tremendously.”

Mayor Rick Meehan added, “I would rather be proactive rather than be reactionary if something did happen.”

The Police Commission was in consensus to have Ayres review the proposed ordinance to have a final draft return to the commission before moving the action item forward to the full Mayor and City Council for a final decision.



5 thoughts on “Ocean City Eyes Pickup Truck Law Change

  1. So, once again we should punish the many for the stupidity of the few? While the case has been made that seatbelts save lives, I submit that they do not make cars safer. Rather, they make drivers and passengers feel immune to the danger. I submit that they feel as though since they are buckled up, they are protected from a crash, therefore they can drive as fast and as recklessly as they want…after all, they’re buckled up.
    Passengers in the back of pick-ups, however, for the most part, are enjoying a nice summer breeze in an open-air ride. Mostly, they just want to get there. Likewise, the safe, responsible driver, knows he has passengers in back and is likely to exercise due caution.
    There will always be idiots. It is not fair to save the idiot at the expense of the prudent.

  2. “Seatbelts save lives but to not make cars safer”.? Obviously if lives are saved, cars are safer. Your conclusion from a statistical  fact doesn’t  make sense. Another illogical deduction: everyone who buckles up wants to speed and drive recklessly; No, we buckle up to protect us from those who do. The kids driving the diesal pickups with a bed full of passengers during classic car week are neither prudent or cautious; they speed and drive reckless. I have witnessed many near sidewalk collisions from these “few”.  Im sure the bill will become law and prudent and responsible  citizens applaud it.

  3. Another TAX… hey, I’ve got an idea… since it’s possible for someone to go into a bar or restaurant, or even a County ABC store, have a drink and get into a fight or worse, drive…we should go back to prohibition…and levy fines against those who drink…

    If I had realized that OC was going to become such a nanny state I would never have invested in property here… It’s not Baltimore!!!

  4. So Chuck, is it ONLY the kids driving diesel trucks or are other vehicles driven recklessly? How many people were killed this summer from riding in the back of a truck compared to Bike Week? How about the number of pedestrians hit by cars that are drag racing? Common sense should be used in any situation, not just riding in the back or driving a truck. Unfortunately, there’s always a few people who do not use common sense regardless of driving/walking/bike riding which ruins it for everyone else. So if a motorcycle came to a dead stop from 40 mph do you think either the driver or passenger would not be a safety hazard to everyone including those on the sidewalk?

    “It shall be unlawful for a person to ride in or allow another person to ride in an unenclosed area of a motor vehicle except in a seat with a seat belt in use” How is the back of a truck any different that a motorcycle? I’m glad WE all buckle up for the same reason as you, thanks for the assumption.

  5. I believe passing this law would punish the people that obey the law of sitting flat on the bed surface. I have had many passengers in my truck beds over the years and the first time I had gotten pulled over for them the officer stated that the passengers had to sit flat on the bottom of the truck bed. Ever since that day i have had up to 12 passengers in the bed of my truck with every one of them sitting directly on the bottom. If the driver of the vehicle cannot keep his passengers under control than they should be the one to get in trouble. In a small congested town with no parking its much easier to pile in the bed of ONE truck and not take 5 different vehicles. Further more 90% of people that pile in the trucks to catch a ride is because they are under the influence and do not feel safe to drive. So less traffic, less drunk drivers on the road…. or not to be able to sit in the bed of a pick-up…

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