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Ask a Trooper - Is it illegal to drive with tailgate down?

Editor's note: The following is an "Ask a Trooper" column by Sergeant Jesse Grabow of the Minnesota State Patrol:

Question: I like to drive with my tailgate down on my pickup for better gas mileage. The other day, a friend told me this was illegal. Is that true?

Answer: According to Minnesota State Statute (M.S.S.) 169.43 (b) "No truck shall be driven or parked on any highway with tailgate or tailboard hanging down or projecting from the vehicle except while such vehicle is being loaded or unloaded, and except when a load on the tailboard renders impossible the closing of the tailboard." So with the information you provided me, I would say that it is illegal, unless you are hauling something that sticks out beyond the pickup box. I believe this becomes what the main issue of this law is: securement and visibility.

Anytime you are hauling or transporting any item, make sure it is secured. Whether it's tie-down straps, chains, binders, etc. use the applicable device to ensure its securement. Not only can this help from losing your item on the highway and creating a traffic hazard, but in the event of a crash its securement can add to your safety in preventing injury from another projectile. When hauling anything that sticks out beyond remember this: M.S.S. 169.52, "When the load upon any vehicle extends to the rear four feet or more beyond the bed or body of such vehicle there shall be displayed at the extreme rear end of the load, at the times when lighted lamps on vehicles are required in this chapter, a red light or lantern plainly visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the sides and rear. The light or lantern required under this section shall be in addition to the rear light required upon every vehicle. At any time when no lights are required there shall be displayed at the extreme rear end of such load a red, yellow or orange flag or cloth not less than 16 inches square."

If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota send your questions to Trp. Jesse Grabow - Minnesota State Patrol at 1000 Highway 10 West, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501-2205. (Or reach him at, )