This story indicates that the family (with a U-haul) was moving from Texas to Ohio. I would imagine that they base their understanding of the traffic laws - unless they are posted - on the laws of their home state.
In Texas, it is perfectly legal for minors to ride in the bed of a truck. Considering this truck even had a camper cap on top, they probably assumed they were doing nothing wrong. Instead, they have now lost their children to a state they have no ties to, have limited funds (since they were relocating) and are stuck.
Without knowing their situation, I can only imaging how this mother must feel.
I'm not saying it was the safest or smartest choice, but surely there were other options available for this situation. With all of the real crime going on, and people who really are abusing and neglecting their children, this seems like a "couldn't care less about these people" attitude for a family that wasn't breaking any known laws, drug running or beating their children. I'm really disappointed.
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I guess I shouldn't be surprised at anything anymore, but I am shocked that someone is defending something this serious. First off, it's been said time and again that ignorance of the law is no excuse. That is definitely the case here. Secondly, the foundation of your argument--that this is legal in Texas and thus their ignorance of Tennessee law is to be expected and excused--is flawed. According to the Texas Department of Safety's website, Texas law on child restraint is nearly identical to Tennessee's. It states:
All children younger than 8 years old, unless taller than 4’9", are required to be in the appropriate child safety seat system wherever they ride in a passenger vehicle. The safety seat system must be installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions. A "passenger vehicle" is a passenger car, sport utility vehicle, truck, light truck, truck tractor or a passenger van designed to transport 15 or fewer occupants, including the driver. (Buses are not included in this definition)
I cannot believe anyone thinks it's okay to put four children in the back of a moving truck, surrounded by furniture and boxes. Do you realize how easy it would be for the furniture to shift and crush a child? Or that the parents would not be able to hear the children cry for help? That the back of the truck is unheated? Any one of these constitutes neglect. All three, in my opinion, constitute gross neglect. I feel sorry for the children, who are scared and don't understand what's going on, but not for the parents.
Had this truck have wrecked, during that illegal lane change that was the basis of the stop, the trooper would have instead had to live the rest of his life with the vision of four dead children in his head, and the parents would have had to live with permanent loss of their children. Had that happened, they would be facing prison time for vehicular homicide of their children. Hopefully this will be a lesson from which they can learn and move forward. Hopefully others will learn from their mistake as well.
And the next time you want to insist something is "perfectly legal"...try doing some research first. It took me 15 seconds to find the Texas law online.
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Before you lambaste someone for not doing research, make sure you read the results you find.
V.T.C.A., Transportation Code 545.414. Riding in Open Beds; Offense (a) A person commits an offense if the person operates an open-bed pickup truck or an open flatbed truck or draws an open flatbed trailer when a child younger than 18 years of age is occupying the bed of the
truck or trailer. (b) An offense under this section is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not less than $25 or more than $200. (c) It is a defense to prosecution under this section that the person was:
(1) operating or towing the vehicle in a parade or in an emergency;
(2) operating the vehicle to transport farmworkers from one field to another field on a farm-to-market road, ranch-to-market road, or county road outside a municipality;
(3) operating the vehicle on a beach;
(4) operating a vehicle that is the only vehicle owned or operated by members of the household;
(5) or operating the vehicle in a hayride permitted by the governing body of or law enforcement agency of each county or municipality in which the hayride will occur.
(a) Compliance or noncompliance with Subsection (a) is not admissible evidence in a civil trial.
Ms. Kinsey, it took me all of 14 seconds to find the Texas Statute for this action, and if it was their only vehicle, then it is permissible by state law in Texas. Granted the law says nothing about the bed being covered by a camper top.
If you are so concerned about children's safety, then by all means throw all your vehemence and verbal abuse towards the State of Tennessee and the lack of safety restraints in school buses.
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Did any one of you who either posted this opinion,or commented on it read the same news article I did? It plainly states :
"Trooper Cooper stopped a U-Haul truck traveling east on Interstate-40 near the 76-mile marker for a lane violation. The three adults in the cab of the vehicle indicated they were traveling from Texas to Ohio."
And..."The children were in the cargo area lying on foam bedding and surrounded by the property of the driver and the children’s mother."
It was a U-Haul Moving truck (i.e. a single cab truck with an enclosed cargo area). This was not a regular pickup truck with a camper cover on it as some of you keep referring to it. Ms. Kinsey has no way of knowing what was in the back of the truck with the children. All it said was "property"; they never said furniture. She stated the law covering "passenger" vehicles, which this U-Haul is not. Mr. Jackson stated the law covering "open-bed or an open flatbed truck", which it is also not.
I am not defending what they were doing. I am just saying that folks need to read the story instead of making assumptions. You remember what happens when you "assume"?