Over the weekend, a teenager died after being thrown from the bed of a pickup in Hillsborough County. According to the St. Petersburg Times, Cesar Cervantes was driving a 2002 Dodge Ram with six passengers, mostly teenagers. Two of the passengers, 15-year-old Nativada Cervantes and 17-year-old Lazaro Espinosa, were riding in the bed of the pickup truck.
According to reports, Cesar Cervantes was headed north on First Street SW when he left the road at the intersection with U.S. 41. The truck went up on the grass embankment and flew into the air, striking a light pole on the east shoulder of U.S. 41. As the vehicle rotated counterclockwise across the road, the two teens in the bed were ejected. Nativada Cervantes of Riverview died at the scene. Lazaro Espinosa was treated for serious injuries at Tampa General Hospital.
Sadly, this is not an uncommon event. In 2008, eight people were killed and 141 injured while riding in the back of pickup trucks in Florida, said Lt. Bill Leeper of the Florida Highway Patrol.
Believe it or not, Florida law does NOT ban driving in the back of a pickup truck. Florida law does state that "it is unlawful for any operator of a pickup truck or flatbed truck to permit a minor child who has not attained 18 years of age to ride upon limited access facilities of the state within the open body of a pickup truck or flatbed truck unless the minor is restrained within the open body in the back of a truck that has been modified to include secure seating and safety restraints to prevent the passenger from being thrown, falling, or jumping from the truck." However, those over 18 years old are permitted.
I do admit that I have had nieces and nephews ride in the back of my pickup truck down the street to our family football games. However, we don't go over 25 miles per hour and the ride is less than 5 minutes long (not saying that it is right--there is speed or distance permissive parameters in the statute).
Fellow owners of pickup truck, be smart about having people ride in the bed of your truck. Others, don't ride in the bed of a truck if you feel the slightest of danger.
Drive safely and watch out for those who don't. For information about your rights after a Florida car accident, motorcycle crash or other personal injury matter, click here to contact Personal Injury Attorney Matthew Noyes. His law firm--Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes, P.A.--has over 100 years of combined experience in personal injury law.