Can You Drive With A Hinged Tonneau Cover Open?

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Written By Waylon Joe

Hey, It’s Waylon “Joe” Kite here. I am a West Virginia native and a die-hard pickup truck fan. My story with trucks started with my dad’s 1989 Ford F-150, and it's still going on. I'll share all my trucking experiences (both great and gross ones) with you. I have a garage full of tools to fix and renovate trucks and a freezer full of ales. Do you want to join me?

A tonneau cover is a handy gear that traditionally covers the truck bed and protects the loads. But some pickup drivers drive the vehicle with an open cargo, which encourages others as well.

Before you proceed, it would be wise to learn if it is good for the truck or tonneau. Can you drive with a hinged tonneau cover open?

The answer depends on some considerations, including the tonneau cover style, the driveway, and the situation.

Moreover, it includes some laws and regulations. So it would be a smart decision if you were aware of the laws and the result before making the final call. The following guide will offer complete information on the topic and provide some suggestions as well.

Can you drive with a hinged tonneau cover open?

Can You Drive With A Hinged Tonneau Cover Open

The shortest answer is no. Whether you are using a roll-up or folding tonneau cover, you are only allowed to either completely open or close it. Driving with a half-open tonneau cover will cause severe damage to the tonneau, bed pads, and hinge.

Is it legal to drive with an open tonneau cover? 

Yes, you can drive with an open tonneau cover once you follow some regulations. If you want to carry loads that extend 4’ from the truck bed, you can open up the tonneau.

But you have to place a red, yellow, or orange flag at the end of the line to alert other drivers. More importantly, the flag has to be 16 square inches or more, so that other road users can notice it easily.

Is it legal to drive with an open tonneau cover? 

If you need to carry a drive with an open tonneau for carrying larger loads at night, you have to set up a visible red light that can be easily seen from 500 feet away. 

Besides, you can transport travelers in the pickup bed, but you will have to exercise caution. Many drivers cause accidents by throwing people off the pickup bed. Following, the section covers different types of tonneau covers and the best way to use them.

Driving with a Hard Tri-Fold Cover Open

The hard tri-fold tonneau cover allows securing in various positions. Among the three, flipping up the first part, you will have about an 18-inch open space at the back of the bed. In this situation, there is no chance to lock the part in place.

However, you can drive open up the first section but at a slower speed, up to 35 miles per hour. Flipping up the second section, you will have a 36-inch open space at the end of the bed. You can secure this position by using a plastic clip with a nylon strap.

Moreover, it is legal to drive on the highway in this position. Flipping the last section will leave 8 inches of the bed open to the sky. Conversely, the whole folded tonneau cover will rest.

You can secure the tonneau cover against the bed and it is safer to drive on the highway. However, it blocks the rear window. So you won’t be able to observe the load via the side view mirrors.

Read More: Can You Stand On A Tonneau Cover?

Driving with a Soft Roll-Up Cover Open

Soft Roll Up Truck Bed Cover

You can secure the soft roll-up tonneau cover once it rolls completely against the cab. In another way, you can either completely open the soft roll-up tonneau or close it. Once rolled up, you can secure it with nylon straps and plastic clips and you will have a completely open bed.

More importantly, you can drive down to the highway in this position. Another good thing is that rolling up the soft roll-up tonneau complexly, won’t block the rearview.

Read More: Can You Go Through A Carwash With A Tonneau Cover?

Driving with a Soft Tri-Fold Cover Open

Soft tri-fold covers allow you to secure up to 2/3 open positions. In detail, if you have a 6.5’ truck bed, using a soft tri-fold tonneau will open over 4’ of the bed to the sky.

And the rest of the space will let you carry the essentials safely. Hard tri-fold covers like the Rugged Liner E-series provide an equal amount of opening. You are allowed to drive with 2/3 of the beds open.

Driving with a One-piece Hard Cover Open

Driving with a One-piece Hard Cover Open

You can either fully close the one-piece tonneau covers or secure them with a strap or bungee cord to drive down the highway. However, you can leave it open for a short trip at a 25 mph speed.

But still; it doesn’t offer complete access to driving on the highway.

In this position, you will have an angled space and won’t be able to carry a refrigerator or other tall load. The one-piece cover offers the most reliable security, though it limits the aspects of truck ownership.

Read More: How Much Weight Can A Tonneau Cover Hold?

The impact of driving with an open tonneau cover

Though you can drive with an open tonneau cover, it is quite a risky task. The following are a few of the crises that can cause driving with an open tonneau cover:

No security

An open tonneau cover significantly reduces the amount of protection for loads, especially for the cargo. It makes the loads visible to others and even encourages bad people to steal them.

More importantly, some specific loads demand special precious things. Even so, some areas are more prone to theft and an open tonneau encourages theft for stealing. 

Lack of weather protection

Weather can change suddenly without notice. Driving with an open tonneau cover won’t give you the chance to cover up the loads if you fall under harsh weather in the middle of the road.

Moreover, snow, rain, sleet, or wild wind can cause enough harm to the lards. In a worse situation, extreme wind can blow away lightweight cargo.

Loss of items

Once again, an open tonneau cover won’t protect the loads from getting lost. It can happen easily while driving on rough roads. This type of road causes the pickup to bounce up and down easily and end up losing valuable items.

The situation that encourages driving with an open tonneau cover?

There are ample reasons that force a pickup truck owner to drive with an open tonneau cover. Among them, the most common is carrying a tall or long cargo. When it needs to transform a longer cargo, the pickup owner can’t push the tonneau or remove it.

Thus, they let the tonneau open. Another reason is some drivers’ desire to have easy access to all the bed areas. So, they leave the tonneau open and get quick access to the truck bed to complete their certain tasks easily.


Knowing the different types of tonneau cover is essential and choosing following the requirements helps get the best result. Once again, can you drive with a hinged tonneau cover open?

Driving with an open-hinged tonneau cover can cause you severe damage. Besides, it is related to the rules and regulations of the state as well.

Thus, we have described a different type of tonneau cover and its position. The intention is to inform you whether you can drive open a certain tonneau cover or not.

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