Fort Wayne Observed brings us a story from the Evansville Courier Press regarding an opinion from the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute on whether law enforcement can ticket occupants of the bed of a pickup truck for failing to use a seat belt.
The opinion is an interpretation of IC 9-19-10 as amended by HEA 1237-2007 (caution, the online Indiana Code cite has not been amended to reflect the new legislation as of the date I type this.) I don’t think much of the opinion’s reliance on past legislation or past incarnations of the bill or the newly created exceptions as a reason to think pickup bed passengers are exempt from the seat belt law. However, if you read the text of the legislation itself (a novel idea) there is reason for concern. It says:
Each occupant of a motor vehicle equipped with a safety belt that meets the standards stated in the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard Number 208 (49 CFR 571.208); and is standard equipment installed by the manufacturer; shall have a safety belt properly fastened about the occupant’s body at all times when the vehicle is in forward motion.
(internal subdivisions omitted).
The jist of this is that if your vehicle has seat belts installed when you get it, you have to use them or risk a ticket. Truck beds don’t generally have seat belts installed. So, if you’re riding back there, I don’t think you have to use a seat belt. You deserve a head injury for being that stupid, but not a ticket.