Is It Legal To Drive With Your Trunk Open? (Explained)

Whenever you are carrying large things that do not fit your car, you probably put them in your trunk car or the compartment of your SUV.

However, there are also instances where the parcel is actually too big to fit the trunk or the storage compartment of your car. This might force you to keep the trunk or hatch open so that you can still carry the parcel. But is it legal to drive with your trunk open?

Legality around diving with your trunk open

It is legal in some states to drive with your trunk or hatch open as long as the parcel or cargo you are carrying does not go beyond the legal limits. Meanwhile, there are states where doing so can be illegal. However, if you are opening the trunk or hatch for no reason, then that is when it might become illegal.

The law understands that not all of us have vehicles that are large enough to be able to haul cargo or parcels without opening the trunk or hatch. That is why it isn’t illegal for us to do so as long as we are actually opening the trunk or hatch for a good purpose. Then again, there are some limits in relation to this topic.

Is it legal to drive with your trunk open?

It isn’t uncommon for us to go to a store and buy something that is quite large. It could be a new refrigerator, or it could be a new sofa. Whatever that thing may be, it also isn’t uncommon for us to haul it ourselves in our own vehicle, especially when delivery expenses cost extra. After all, that is what the trunk or the storage compartment of our cars or SUVs are for.

Then again, if you are carrying something that is actually quite large, what you should also know is that not all vehicles have enough trunk or compartment space to carry large cargo. This is where you might be forced to open the trunk or the hatch of your vehicle to make more room for the cargo you are carrying.

While it does seem advantageous for us to open the trunk or hatch of the vehicle so that whatever we are carrying actually fits, you might be wondering if doing so is actually legal. In that regard, is it legal to drive with your trunk open?

Yes, it is legal to drive when the trunk of your car is open, but it can depend on the state you live in. That’s because there are some states where driving with the trunk open can be illegal. However, the general consensus is that, in most states, you are indeed allowed to drive with the trunk open.

But while it may be legal for you to drive with your trunk open, you still need to know that there are limits to what you can do when it comes to opening your trunk. First of all, it is important for you to know that you should only open your trunk if and only if you have a good reason to do so.

This means that you cannot open the trunk because you want to open it for no good reason. So, if you are not carrying a large enough cargo that won’t fit inside the vehicle, you shouldn’t be opening your trunk because that is illegal in most states or in general. You should only open the trunk when you are carrying something that cannot fit inside the vehicle.

Even if you are carrying something that won’t fit your vehicle, it still is important to note that you need to abide by the limits in terms of how far that cargo can stick out of your car, either lengthwise or sideways. The limits will depend on the state where you live, but what we can be sure of is that you shouldn’t be carrying something that is protruding out of the trunk or the car too much because that can be dangerous to the other vehicles on the road. 

There are even some states that will require certain lengths to have an “over length load” warning sign that will allow other drivers on the road to see that you are carrying something that is actually quite large.

If you are carrying something that is beyond the size limit (which depends on the state where you live), it is illegal for you to be carrying that cargo while keeping your trunk open due to safety reasons.

Another limitation that you should know is that it is important that you also keep the lid of your trunk low enough so that you can still see well enough with your rearview mirror. If the lid is opened all the way to its limits, it would be impossible for you to see anything well using the rearview mirror because of how the trunk lid is obstructing your view.

All that said, as long as you are abiding by any of those limitations set by law (again, this will depend on the laws of your state), then there is no reason why you cannot drive with the trunk open.

Can I drive my SUV with the hatch open?

We’ve been talking about the legality of keeping your car’s trunk open. But we never really discussed whether or not the same rules apply to an SUV and its hatch.

So, can you drive with your SUV’s hatch open?

The thing is that the law seems to be silent in relation to the difference between driving with a trunk open and driving with the hatch open. That means that driving with your SUV’s hatch open is just the same as driving with your car’s trunk open. The same rules and laws apply in the sense that it is legal to drive with your SUV’s hatch open.

However, because it is also legal to drive with your SUV’s hatch open in the same way as it is legal to drive with the car’s trunk open, you should also know that the same limitations to an SUV apply as well. And even if you are driving a pickup truck, the same rules and limitations also apply to the tailgate of your pickup truck.

That means that, whether you are driving an SUV or a pickup truck, you still need to make sure that you are following the limitations in relation to opening your hatch or tailgate while driving. You shouldn’t be opening them without a purpose, and that you shouldn’t be hauling something that extends beyond the legal limits of your state.

How do you secure an open car trunk?

Another thing that you need to know in relation to opening your trunk while you are carrying something big is that you need to make sure that you are also securing that cargo in place. That’s because keeping the trunk open is going to increase the likelihood of your cargo falling off and causing accidents on the road. No one wants that to happen, and that is why it is important that you secure your cargo when you open your car’s trunk. But how do you secure an open car trunk?

One of the ways you can use to secure your cargo in your car’s open trunk is to use adhesive tapes that are strong enough to stick on both the cargo and the carpet of your trunk. All you need to do is to stick the adhesive tape on the bottom part of the cargo and stick it on the carpet of your trunk. This is one of the easiest ways to secure your cargo and to make sure that it doesn’t fall off while you are driving.

Another method you can use is to tie the cargo down on the trunk using rubber cables that can be hooked on some side hooks that you can attach to the sidewalls of the inner part of the car’s trunk. But remember that you have to screw the hooks in, which might not be ideal for some car owners, especially if they have a reason to believe that installing these hooks can pull the car’s value.

Nevertheless, if you do use this method, you need to install the hooks on the walls of your trunk’s interior. This can also be a method you can use when you are driving an SUV. It’s similar to the hooks that you can find on the sidewalls of most pickup trucks.

After that, use cables that you can hook on those hooks. Strap the cargo in using the cables and make sure that the cables are hugging the cargo tight enough so that they won’t fall off the trunk. In the alternative, you can also use rope, but it may require you to tie the rope tightly on the hooks.

If you are driving an SUV, you can also use ropes to secure the cargo. However, instead of tying the rope around the hooks, you can tie them on the backseat of your car so that the backseat acts as the anchor that will allow the cargo to stay in place.

Sources

Can I Legally Drive With My Trunk Open?

Can I Drive My SUV With Hatch Open

Is it illegal to drive a truck with the tailgate down?