If you do bring a child on the truck, tether the car seat to the back wall
Freightliners have bolted clips in the back wall for the bunk safety webbing. It works great for the auxillary adaptor belt that comes permanently attached to baby seats. This belt has j-shaped clips that can hold the seat to the rings on the wall. You can find a baby seat in a thrift store. Check online for recalls or on the seat for expiration dates of infant car seats.
In a Peterbilt you have to use the hinge of the bunk to hook one side of the clip belt, but you may have to go to a baby store to buy an extender belt to reach the hinge on the other side of the bunk. You can use a very strong tie-down in a pinch to extend the length, but you could be ticketed for an improper seat belt if someone noiticed it.
Response from Vicki:
Until receiving your home support team tip, we had never heard about bringing in a big truck a child so young that he/she needed to be in a car seat. Part of this mindset stemmed from insurance regulations that we were required to submit to when I rode with Mike as a passenger: I was not allowed to ride with him if I was pregnant.
My thinking was that if I could not be pregnant in a company truck, I could not have a young child in there either -- and neither could any of the trucking company's other drivers or passengers.
However, an article that used to be on RoadKing.com's website which said(*):
When Heather Fronko started the second grade, she was the only kid in class who had been to 48 states and Canada. That's because she rode in a truck since she was 5 weeks old.
So that shattered my thinking on that subject.
I've done a bit of research and would like to pass along what I've found.
According to the Child restraint laws page on the website of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS): "All 50 states and the District of Columbia have child restraint laws." They also provide a table with information by state (in the USA).
Now, granted, this information has been designed for automobiles, not large trucks.
A search for these two phrases together -- "child restraint law" "commercial motor vehicle" -- revealed some information, mostly legislation or laws in various states. Some legislation seeks to increase either regulation regarding or fines associated with child restraint offenses.
It should be noted that IIHS's page linked above lists the maximum fine for a first offense regarding child restraint in a vehicle. Since the fines vary widely, it is likely that fines for subsequent offenses vary widely, too.
Another resource you may want to view is on the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Child Passenger Safety.
Professional truck drivers also need to make sure that they have proper authorization for riders in their trucks. We're not aware of any company drivers who have young children with them in their trucks, so this may apply only to owner-operators and independent drivers. Make sure that you have the appropriate documentation with you regarding the passengers in your truck. You do not want to run the risk of being accused of kidnapping.
This next statement sounds out of character for us since we have purchased many items from thrift stores in the past. However, we do not recommend buying a used child car seat there -- simply because it may not be up to the standards that may be expected. We urge our readers with a young child rider to invest in their child's protection by buying a car seat that meets current standards. We leave it to you to research what those current standards are. When the standards are met, there will be no guessing.
For what it's worth, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has on its website recalls and product safety news. Check the website if you need to.
Your advice on where to clip the car seat in a truck is intriguing. Besides this, we're sure there is much that can be addressed regarding young child riders in large trucks. We would appreciate hearing from other professional truck drivers with young children to know how they handle frugal in-truck parenting.
On behalf of Mike and me, we wish you safe travels and lots of money saving opportunities on the road.
* Reference: http://roadking.com/2011/05/rig-rats/ (no longer online)