Can Truck Drivers Have Passengers?

Being truckers are one of the most essential jobs in the world but also one of the loneliest. Long hours and even longer routes mean a lot of sitting in your cab trying to pass the time by yourself. There’s only so much listening to the radio or finding unconventional ways to cook food while on the road you can do. So many truckers have wondered the question of can truck driver have passengers. The answer to that is a bit more complicated than you might assume.

Laws and regulations for truck drivers having passenger vary by state and company

A truck drivers, potentially a truck driver can have passengers.
Truck driver | Getty Images

Truckers Insider has a good breakdown of the relevant facts. According to the United States Department of Transportation, you must have written authorization from your employer to take someone along with you during a job. There are technically no laws against this, but you need permission before having someone in your cab.

As you might already know, different companies have different feelings about this. You could have one employer approve your request while the very next one rejects it. Any passenger must also fill out forms with identifying information, pass a background check, and outline the relevant dates for the gig and how long they’ll ride with the driver. To find out ahead of time what you’ll need to do for that permission slip, check with a company’s trucking regulations or ask your boss.

Additionally, while a company may allow people to ride with their drivers, they’re likely to be more strict with new drivers. This is pretty understandable, given you haven’t proved yourself to the company, and they don’t want you slacking off or endangering people on the road. It might be a bit before you get the green light, even in a company that does allow people to ride with you.

Picking up people mid-gig is discouraged if not outright illegal

We’ve all seen the movies where a truck driver picks up a hitchhiker to help them on their adventure. Believe it or not, many people have done this in the past. These days, though, most truckers are smart enough not to risk this situation even without the legal and company problems it can cause.

As mentioned, the DOT requires written approval for passengers to ride with a trucker. This would logically cover anyone who intends to ride with you, even those who come aboard in the middle of a job. In many cases, you’re not going to be able to get that approval on the fly, even if you know the person you meet along the way. If that person is a stranger, it’s even less likely for the numerous safety issues involved in taking a stranger with you on a drive.

Hopefully, you don’t need to be told that having a “what they don’t know won’t hurt them” attitude on this issue is a bad idea. In addition to potentially getting you fired if you’re found out, letting a stranger ride with you is risky. This is especially true if no one knows they’ve joined you on the drive. For everyone’s safety, just don’t do it.

Pets are a separate issue for people

While things aren’t great for people wanting to ride with you, pets are another story. According to Digital Dispatch, no DOT regulations regarding taking pet animals with you in your cab. Many companies also allow you to have a pet, though be aware that they may have their own regulations on the number of pets and what type of animal you can have.

In general, pets are a better option for companionship on the job than people. As long as you can care for your pet properly and get the proper approval from the company, having an animal friend can make long jobs feel a bit shorter.

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