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Can truck drivers have a passenger? 6 questions truck drivers keep asking

Want to take a family member with you on the road? This post will be devoted to the rules of the DOT about passengers and what you need to know to take a partner on a long road.

Can truck drivers have a passenger?

In accordance with the USDOT rules, passengers cannot be transported in a commercial vehicle unless an authorized carrier has given written permission. Written permission must contain the name of the carrier, the date and time of the beginning and end of transportation.

If you start driving, or you have been driving a commercial vehicle for some time, there is one thing about job that becomes obvious pretty quickly. Driving a truck for long periods by yourself can be a pretty lonely gig. You are isolated in a truck cab and away from home for several weeks in a row, often not knowing exactly when you can get home. It would be great to have a family member close by and be on the long road with a dear one.

It's just not as easy as loading up that family member and away you go. Between DOT rules and insurance companies, a simple problem can get a bit gloomy depending on which company you work for.

Common truck passenger questions

There are a few common questions that most drivers (and maybe even their families) tell you if you can have a passenger in a truck. This post contains all the general questions about the transport of passengers that have anyway answers.

Keep in mind that these questions are answered in the light of the DOT rule, and not what the shipper company can allow. Companies more than likely have a stricter standard required for passengers due to insurance claims.

Are you allowed to have passengers?

Yes, you just need to go through some of the procedures of your company, which may have specific rules and fill in the necessary documents.

Do I need a CDL to drive a truck?

No. When you read the rule, there is no mention of the CDL requirements for passengers. If you are stupid enough to put them behind the wheel, that's another story (don't do it). Many companies that allow passengers specifically DO NOT want cdl drivers in their cars because they do not want them to drive.

Does the passenger have to be your spouse?

There is no spousal requirement in the DOT rule that your passenger has to be your spouse. As intrusive as government is, it’s not that bad yet.

Is there a minimum age requirement?

There is no minimum age, but the company can impose its policy.

Can you have more than one passenger in a truck?

The DOT rule has no limit on how many passengers you can take with you. Saying this, the cab of the truck is not a big area. The presence of several passengers will be limited and may be a distraction of the driver.

The DOT passenger rule (edited):

392.60 Unauthorized persons not to be transported.

(a) Unless specifically authorized in writing to do so by the motor carrier under whose authority the commercial motor vehicle is being operated, no driver shall transport any person or permit any person to be transported on any commercial motor vehicle other than a bus. When such authorization is issued, it shall state the name of the person to be transported, the points where the transportation is to begin and end, and the date upon which such authority expires.

Truck driver passenger waiver

There are several things that companies (and even owner operators) have to keep in mind when considering allowing passengers in the vehicle.

If you’re checking out potential trucking companies and you think there might be a possibility of taking a passenger with you at some point, just ask the company a couple of quick questions:

  • Does the company have a ride along or passenger program?

  • What is the company policy for passengers?

Whenever possible, ask for a copy of the company’s rider policy so that you understand the details of the rider program. The policy will give you guidance on what the rules are and provide you with specifics on information that the company will want when applying for your passenger waiver.

These are general rules, but some restrictions or guidelines may be:

  • Restrictions on age

  • Husband or wife only (possibly other family members depending on company)

  • Having the DOT waiver in place

  • Health considerations of passenger

  • How long the passenger will be riding with you

  • You must be with the company at least 90 days

In addition to giving guidance on what the requirements for truck passengers, some companies also have very specific exclusions or limitations on passengers, which include but aren’t limited to:

  • No pregnant passengers

  • No hitchhikers

  • Age restrictions. Keep in mind age rules will vary from company to company.

  • Passengers that have a CDL

  • Only 1 passenger at a time

There may be even more restrictions on who can ride with you in your truck, make sure you ask and understand company policies. For folks who are owner operators, you’ll need to check with your insurance company to see what they will allow.

Some additional information that may be required for a truck passenger:

Drivers license or some other form of ID. Remember that if your passenger has a CDL, the company will more than likely not allow them to ride along.

If your spouse has a different last name, you may need to show a copy of your marriage certificate.

A social security card. Make sure that the name on the social security card match your passengers name on the ID they submitted.

WHTI form. If your travels will be taking you into Canada your passenger will need to fill out a Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative form. You can find out more about the WHTI form from the US Customs website.

Health Insurance information. If your passenger has their own health insurance, a company may ask that they provide that information.

You will need to make sure that your passengers medical insurance program will qualify. If it doesn’t, you’ll need to get with someone from your company and see if passenger insurance policy can be purchased.

Generally, companies that have a passenger program will offer a passenger insurance policy, check with the HR department. With some companies, they will do a payroll deduction for family members.

The amount deducted varies but I’ve seen as low as $12/month. Ask your HR folks.

There is a lot potential for someone to get injured in or around a truck. Many companies require that passengers either have their own or purchase insurance so that they aren’t liable for passengers.

Indemnification Agreement. Companies will require that your passenger fill out, sign and notorize a document that releases the company from any liability for the passenger.

These were all examples of items that may be covered in your company’s rider policy. Sorry to beat a dead horse here, but make sure that you talk to your company or any company that you’re interested in working for what their requirements are. They may have many more rules and requirements.

Can a child ride in a commercial truck?

There is no age limit in the DOT rule for passengers that ride in a commercial vehicle. Any age restrictions for a passenger will be imposed by the company at the direction of their insurance company.Insurance company’s push motor carriers to have policies in place in order limit guest passenger liability.

If it were up to insurance companies, there wouldn’t be any riders allowed but even they know that’s not realistic. Both trucking and insurance companies usually work together manage their risk by striking a balance between what’s good for them and having a driver that’s happy.

If you’re allowed to travel with small children (infants and toddlers etc) there’s another important thing you’ll need to keep in mind.

Child safety seats. Always remember that if you are traveling with a small child, you may need to install a car safety seat. Check with your home state for size and weight requirements and make sure that you are able to get that seat secured properly in the vehicle.

Do you have to have a copy of the authorization with you?

The DOT rules do not require that the passenger authorization has to be carried in the truck. You have one on file with the company (and it can be verified with a phone call) you should be good to go. Although the DOT rules say that you’re not required to have the waiver with you, it’s recommended that you have a copy with you during your trip.

That way if you’re stopped or brought in for an inspection you can show that everything is all ok and will help prevent delays getting the inspection completed.

If you want to follow up with your company and follow their guidelines. Headaches than it’s worth m ore. You can get a ticket for the station and a ticket. Those headaches will probably translate when you get back to your home terminal.


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