Truck Driving With a Child: Can Kids Ride in Semi Trucks?

Truck driving with a child presents unique challenges to semi truck operators. Discover whether trucking companies allow infants and young children to ride shotgun in a b

By

Joe Weaver
June 1, 2023
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Truck driving with a child brings about important legal considerations and potential challenges, of which truckers and parents should be aware. While regulations regarding child passengers vary, it’s crucial to navigate these rules to ensure compliance and, above all, safety. Alongside the legal aspect, there are practical hurdles to address, such as ensuring the child’s nutrition, entertainment, and access to medical care if needed. 

Truck driving with a child is legal and can be done safely. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) allows children as passengers in a commercial motor vehicle, including semi trucks, under specific conditions. However, non-independent truckers must also adhere to their company’s rider policy regarding child passengers. 

While the FMCSA does not prohibit children from riding in semi truck cabs, there are further considerations to take into account before taking a young passenger on the road.

Can a Child Ride in a Commercial Truck?

An overhead view of a semi truck on a four lane highway.

Since there are no federal laws or state against having a child as a passenger, you should be able to just load up your son or daughter and hit the road, right? In short, no. Rider policies will vary from one trucking company to another, and these are what really determine how many people can be in a semi truck. Even independent owner-operators will need to contact their insurance providers about whether additional insurance is required before allowing a passenger to ride with them. 

Insurance and Waivers

As previously mentioned, even if you find yourself in the position to bring a child along in your truck, doing so will require additional insurance from your company or provider. Companies will usually require you to sign a waiver, which indemnifies your employer against any legal actions you might take if the child is injured in your truck.

Minimum Age Restrictions for Passengers

One crucial aspect to consider is the minimum age for child passengers in a commercial truck. Some companies set an age limit of 18 or older for passengers in their trucks. These age restrictions are in place to prioritize safety and protect young individuals who may not possess the maturity or understanding required in such an environment.

What to Expect from a Kid in Your Cab

If your child meets the minimum age requirement, and you decide to bring them along in the truck, it’s important to have realistic expectations about their behavior and needs during the journey. Long hours on the road can be tiresome for both the driver and the child. 

Patience and understanding are crucial as children may become restless, bored, or in need of attention. Planning ahead and ensuring the child’s comfort, entertainment, and well-being can make the experience more manageable for everyone involved.

Can You Put a Car Seat in a Semi?

A child being strapped into a car seat.

Yes, it is legal to install a car seat in a semi. In fact, if you plan on transporting an infant or young child in your truck, it’s a legal requirement, and paramount to the safety of the passenger and the driver. Infants and toddlers, in particular, require the use of a forward or rear-facing car seat to ensure safe travels.

Once again, always refer to your company’s rider policy, as it may limit the age range of your passengers to exclude infants and toddlers.

Can Babies Ride in Semi Trucks?

One question often asked by truckers with young families is whether it is safe for babies to ride in semi trucks. While it is legal to have a child in your passenger seat, it is essential to prioritize safety, especially for infants. The FMCSA recommends against transporting infants in commercial vehicles due to safety concerns

The unique challenges and potential risks associated with the trucking environment may not be suitable for young children, especially those who are unable to support their heads or sit up independently.

Safety Concerns and Child Restraint Systems

When it comes to child safety in semi trucks, proper restraint systems are paramount. If your trucking company allows you to transport infants and small children, it is crucial to use an appropriate child restraint system. 

The FMCSA requires the use of a federally approved child restraint system for children riding in commercial vehicles. These systems are specifically designed to provide optimal protection and ensure the child’s safety in the event of an accident or sudden braking.

Use the following table as a guideline to determine what car seat or booster seat is best for your child. The general rule of thumb is to continue using the same kind of restraint system until your child grows beyond the manufacturer’s weight and size limits.

Child AgeRecommended Restraint System
Birth to three yearsRear-facing car seat
Four to seven yearsForward-facing car seat
Eight to 12 yearsBooster seat
12 years and aboveStock seat belt

Source: NHTSA

Keep in mind that the ages above are meant as guidelines, not hard and fast rules. Don’t move on from a booster seat to a standard belt until it can strap securely across the upper thighs of the child passenger.

Guidelines to Secure a Car Seat in a Semi

Securing a car seat in a semi truck requires careful attention to detail and safety guidelines. Installing the car seat properly is vital to maximize safe travelling for your child. 

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and consult the FMCSA guidelines to correctly secure the car seat in the semi truck’s cabin. Regularly inspect the car seat and ensure it remains properly fastened throughout the journey.

Trucking Companies With Rider Policies

A mother and son standing next to a semi truck.

Can truck drivers have kids with them? The most direct answer for non-independent truckers is “Yes, but only if your company’s rider policy allows it.” While the FMCSA doesn’t specifically prohibit children in trucks, they also don’t set policy for trucking companies, and many of those companies prefer to limit passengers to 18 years or older.

Semi Truck Passenger Laws

Laws and regulations governing the legality of passengers in semi trucks can vary depending on the region in which you work. Even if children are permitted by your company’s rider policy, you’re likely to encounter additional requirements, such as the increased insurance rates mentioned earlier.

Passenger Restrictions and Limitations

State regulations may impose passenger restrictions and limitations for semi truck drivers on trucking companies that allow passengers. For example, some states may limit the number of passengers allowed in a commercial vehicle, regardless of age. It is essential to be aware of these restrictions and comply with them to avoid penalties or potential legal complications.

To ensure compliance with the regulations and avoid legal issues, it is vital for truckers to stay informed and regularly update themselves on any changes or updates to the laws. By understanding and adhering to the applicable regulations, truckers can confidently make decisions regarding having a child passenger in their semi truck while minimizing the risk of legal complications.

Single Mom Truck Drivers

A growing number of women are stepping up into big rigs across the U.S. to fill in for the shortage of available drivers, and single moms are among those numbers. The sense of freedom offered by the profession can be attractive, but it’s important to consider the needs of any young, dependent children before taking to the road as a single mom.

Can a Truck Driver be a Single Mom?

Being a single mom and a truck driver carries its own unique challenges depending on certain factors. For empty-nesters looking for a new career, trucking offers the opportunity to make good money and see the country while you’re at it.

However, for single moms with dependent children, balancing the responsibilities of parenting with the demands of the trucking profession requires careful planning and support systems in place. A long-haul or regional trucker with a dependent child will face challenges such as:

  • Arranging supervision during time away from home
  • Infrequent contact with their child or children for days at a time
  • Remotely dealing with problems at school, doctor’s appointments, and other issues as they arise

This may be feasible if you have family or trusted friends who can look after them while you’re away. Single parents who think they can successfully raise a child on the road easily are likely to get a rude awakening.

While it is legally possible for single moms to be truck drivers, it is important to consider the unique challenges they may face and make arrangements to ensure the well-being of their children when they are on the road.

Why You Should Go ABCO

Truck driving with a child as a passenger is a topic that requires careful consideration. While it is legal under certain conditions, truckers must adhere to regulations and prioritize safety. The occasional short trip on a regional or local delivery could be a fun experience to share with a son or daughter. However, children can be distracting, and a distracted truck driver can potentially do a lot of damage to themselves and others on the road. 

At ABCO, we value the health and safety of our employees. While our rider policy prohibits child passengers in their trucks, it does so to reflect our dedication to maintaining a safe and focused environment for our drivers. 

By avoiding the costs associated with allowing younger passengers in a semi, we’re able to offer some of the most competitive salaries in the trucking business today. We also offer regional and local jobs that will allow you to be home with your family on a more frequent basis, which we like to think makes us one of the most family friendly trucking companies.

To learn more about opportunities at ABCO, give us a call at (866) 980-2710 or contact us through e-mail. You can even apply online if you’re ready to make the next move in your trucking career. Thanks for reading and drive safe out there. We look forward to hearing from you!

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