The versatility of a roll-up tonneau cover is one of its most appealing features. It provides protection, aesthetics, and the flexibility to accommodate larger items that might not fit with the cover fully closed. However, a common question arises: Can you drive with it partially open? Let’s explore this topic in depth.
The Legal Aspect of Driving with a Partially Open Roll Up Tonneau Cover
When it comes to driving with a tonneau cover partially open, the legal implications are often overlooked. However, it’s crucial to understand the laws and regulations surrounding this to ensure you’re not inadvertently breaking any rules.
01. State Regulations
The laws regarding driving with an open tonneau cover vary from state to state. Some states might have specific regulations about how much of the cover can be open, especially if it obstructs the driver’s view or poses a potential hazard to other road users.
If your partially open tonneau cover obstructs your rear view, it could be deemed a hazard. Many states have regulations that require drivers to have an unobstructed view of the road, which includes the rearview.
If you’ve kept your tonneau cover open due to large cargo, there might be specific rules about how much the cargo can stick out from your vehicle. For example, if you’re transporting items that jut out 4’ from the truck bed, the tonneau can remain open. But, it’s necessary to attach a flag – either red, yellow, or orange – at the cargo’s end to warn fellow drivers. This flag should be at least 18 square inches to be clearly visible.
a single solid red or fluorescent orange flag or cloth not less than 18 inches square if the projecting load is two feet wide or less. Two warning flags or cloths are required if the projecting load is wider than two feet.https://dot.ca.gov/programs/traffic-operations/legal-truck-access/overhang
If you’re transporting larger loads at night with an open tonneau, you must set up a visible red light that can be easily seen from 500 feet away.
during darkness, in addition to the required taillamp, two red lights with a bulb rated not in excess of six candlepower plainly visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the sides and rear.https://dot.ca.gov/programs/traffic-operations/legal-truck-access/overhang
Safety of Passengers
In some states, it’s legal to transport passengers in the truck bed. However, if you’re doing this with a partially open tonneau cover, you must exercise caution to ensure their safety.
Safety Concerns When Driving with a Partially Open Roll Up Tonneau Cover
Driving with a tonneau cover partially open isn’t just about the cover itself. It’s also about the contents in the truck bed. Here are some concerns:
1. Flying Debris:
- Risk: Unsecured items in the truck bed can quickly turn into hazardous projectiles, especially at high speeds. This not only poses a threat to other vehicles on the road but can also damage your own vehicle.
- Prevention: Ensure all items in the truck bed are tied down or secured using bungee cords, nets, or other restraining devices. Regularly inspect these restraints for wear and tear and replace them as needed.
2. Impaired Visibility:
- Risk: A partially open tonneau cover, depending on its position and the angle at which it’s opened, can obstruct the driver’s rear view. This can make lane changes, reversing, and general awareness of surroundings challenging and dangerous.
- Prevention: Before setting off, adjust your side mirrors to compensate for any loss of visibility from the rearview mirror. If possible, use backup cameras or sensors to aid in reversing. Always be extra cautious and aware of your surroundings.
3. Potential Damage to the Tonneau Cover:
- Risk: Soft tonneau covers, in particular, are susceptible to damage when left partially open. The wind can cause them to flap, leading to wear and tear. Additionally, if the cover catches a strong gust, it can either tear or become completely detached from the truck.
- Prevention: If you must drive with the cover partially open, try to do so at reduced speeds to minimize wind resistance. Regularly check the cover for signs of damage and ensure it’s properly attached before each journey. Consider investing in a hard tonneau cover if you frequently need to drive with it open, as they tend to be more resilient to wind and potential damage.
In conclusion, driving with a roll-up tonneau cover partially open can offer convenience and versatility for certain situations but should be approached cautiously. Always prioritize safety and adhere to local regulations when deciding to drive with an open tonneau cover. If you’re unsure about whether it’s permissible or safe in your area, consult local authorities or reach out to professionals in the industry who can provide guidance tailored to your specific circumstances.