You may not know this, but it’s illegal to drive with the tailgate down. OR IS IT?
Well, it depends on which state you live in. I know, that is a lame answer but it is true. There are state laws that limit how you can drive with regards to your tailgate, your truck bed, and everything in between.
I live in California but I travel often in the southwest and occasionally through the south. So I did some research to find out if there are any states that have an iron fist on how I can drive with my tailgate down.
There are no national laws that restrict the operation of a motor vehicle with a rear tailgate in a certain position. Each state has regulates if it is legal to drive with the tailgate down.
In some states, the tailgate needs to be secured or fastened so it can’t move while the truck is in operation. In the following states it is illegal to drive with your truck tailgate down or unsecured:
The following states have no laws restricting driving a pickup with the tailgate down:
- AK, AR, CA, CO, CT, D.C., DL, FL, GA, HI, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, ME, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NM, NV, NY, PA, OH, OR, RI, TN, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV, WY
READ MORE: DOES PUTTING YOUR TAILGATE DOWN SAVE GAS?
Is Driving Without A Tailgate Illegal?
Yes, in most states. Most of the same states that do not have a law forbidding tailgate positions also do not regulate if you can drive without a tailgate. So most states it is legal to drive with no tailgate.
Will Driving With Tailgate Down Damage Your Truck?
Driving with your tailgate down can be done safely. But you should understand that it can cause damage if other drivers are not aware and they may inadvertently hit the tailgate while in operation.
Also, if you are driving your truck with the tailgate down make sure you check the bed so you are not carrying any cargo that may fall out while moving. Also, some tailgates are designed to be removed with the tailgate down and when you are driving it can shake and fall off! That may be an expensive error.
If you want to protect your investment, it might be worth considering how fast you drive and whether or not a lower speed would have an impact on the wear and tear of your vehicle.
Your truck’s tailgate could be stolen when left unattended as well. Texas and California are dramatically worse for stolen tailgates. That makes the most sense because these two states have the most trucks:
Can A Locked Tailgate Be Stolen?
No, a locked tailgate will not be stolen unless the thieve can pick the tailgate lock or destroy your truck bed. Driving with your tailgate down could lead to a stolen tailgate. But here are some locks that let you do it for relatively cheap.
Most states do not restrict driving without a tailgate. So basically, it is legal to drive with no tailgate in most of the U.S., except for some exceptions like California and New York where there are specific laws requiring trucks to have rear-view mirrors (and therefore needing at least one side of your vehicle’s bed open).
Truck tailgates come in many sizes, shapes, and materials. They can be made from wood, metal, or plastic. The easiest tailgate to remove is the bolt-on tailgate. In most cases, you only need a socket wrench for this simple task. If your truck bed has a built-in tailgate that’s not removable, you can have it replaced with an aftermarket drop-in bed liner.
If you are looking to purchase a new truck, be careful to get one that has a bolt-on tailgate. This type of gate is easier to remove and replace if stolen or broken into pieces. Also, don’t forget to get the right lock for your tailgate.
My Most Valuable Tailgate Door Locks
Here is a shortlist of truck locks currently on the market:
Masterlock Tailgate Locks
Truck Tailgate Cable Lock
The easiest to conceal and carry with you, this lock has no key and will surely be a great theft deterrent. It is made from steel-reinforced rubber that makes it stronger and more difficult to saw through. The bolt is 5/16″ in diameter and it comes with a cable length of 10 ft.
Truck Tailgate Latch Lock
Like the previous lock, this one also has no key, but you don’t need a cable for this type because it’s a padlock. It has an anti-theft design, a dual locking mechanism for added security, and is made from chrome-plated alloy steel with a padlock body. The bolt has a diameter of 5/16″ and it comes with a latch lock arm length of 1-1/8″ x 13/32″.
Truck Bed Latch Lock
A beefier version of the previous padlock, this one is made from die-cast alloy steel and it has a 4-pin cylinder anti-drill, anti-pull, and anti-break design. It’s also weatherproof, preventing rusting or freezing. The bolt has a diameter of 5/16″ and it comes with a latch lock arm length of 1-1/8″ x 13/32″.
Bulldog Truck Bed Latch Lock
A weatherproof padlock great for securing vehicles and toolboxes, this one is made from die-cast alloy steel with a chrome finish. It has drill resistance and it resists rusting, corrosion and freezing. The bolt has a diameter of 5/16″ and it comes with a latch lock arm length of 1-1/8″ x 13/32″.
Truck Bed Latch Lock
A weatherproof padlock great for securing vehicles and toolboxes, this one is made from high-impact-resistant plastic to resist shattering or chipping. It’s also heat, oil, chemical, and rust-resistant. The bolt has a diameter of 5/16″ and it comes with a latch lock arm length of 1-1/8″ x 13/32″.
Truck Bed Chain Lock
A 2 ft. long chain lock that’s made from alloy steel for strength and durability. It’s flexible enough to wrap around your truck’s tailgate and a fixed object in the bed.
Truck Bed Chain Lock with Snaphook
A 3 ft. long chain lock that has a snap hook for locking objects inside or outside the truck bed. It’s made from alloy steel for strength and durability.
If your truck has no tailgate, you will have to buy one that is specifically made for your truck. Although there are not as many options as with the bolt-on tailgates, at least it will be easier for you to find one.
This is just an example of how vulnerable your truck’s tailgate can be when it comes to theft. So whatever accessories you get, make sure they’re sturdy enough to resist theft attempts.
Takeaways – Driving With The Tailgate Down
The law is clear. You can’t drive with your tailgate down in most states, but there are some exceptions to the rule.
For example, if you’re driving on a highway or freeway and need to use your truck’s bed for transporting goods, it might make sense to lower the tailgate so that cargo doesn’t fly out when going over bumps.
Other times this may be necessary too – like loading up at Home Depot after hours where they have metal detectors before entering the store instead of just leaving their items behind in order to avoid getting scanned by security guards. If you find yourself needing to transport things in an unsafe manner due to these kinds of situations, know that no one will bother citing you unless someone complains about it being
Driving with your truck tailgate down is illegal in most states. The prosecution of this crime varies from state to state, but the general rule seems to be that if you drive with a loaded trailer and don’t lower it when not traveling, then you’re breaking the law and could face fines or other penalties.
Thanks for reading and stay dirty