They're big, powerful, heavy and many people won’t drive anything but a pickup truck. But are they risking their safety and the lives of their passengers? According to Consumer Reports, the only pick up to make the cut with regards to meeting the threshold of recommended safety was the Ford F-150, with the Toyota Tundra falling tragically short in the full-size category.
Pickup trucks have gained a lot of popularity in recent years, not only for their ability to haul whatever cargo that you need, but also for transporting families. Since more and more families are using pickups as their primary mode of transportation, safety is even more important.
What goes into vehicle safety ratings?
Consumer Reports uses crash test data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the IIHS to come up with an overall safety score for each car that they rate. Vehicles with the highest scores will receive a recommendation. Some of the factors that go into a recommendation include:
- The vehicle's available safety systems.
- The road-test score.
- The results of Auto Survey by current owners.
The testing process
Insurance companies funded the latest round of crash ratings, which put seven full-sized pickup trucks and four compact pickup models to the test. The first test they were subjected to was a small-overlap front crash test, which is designed to simulate the front corner of the vehicle colliding with a pole, tree, another stationary object, or the car in front of them. The test is performed with the vehicle reaching 40 mph.
The results of the test showed that only half of the pickup trucks in the testing received an acceptable or better rating, with only three achieving a standing of good.
How did certain models stack up against the rest?
When a vehicle is put through IIHS testing, it will receive one of four overall ratings after testing has been completed - Poor, Marginal, Acceptable, and Good. Only one vehicle was on the lowest end of the spectrum, receiving a rating of Poor, which was the Toyota Tundra. Three pickup models did lead the pack, receiving Good ratings. The Ford F-150, Ram 1500, and Nissan Titan all passed the test of approval when it comes to crash safety.
On the compact side of the results, the ratings were lower, with only one vehicle - the Toyota Tacoma - receiving an acceptable rating. Other models in that class, including the Chevrolet Colorado, the GMC Canyon, and the Nissan Frontier were placed in the marginal category.
Only one vehicle was awarded a Top Safety Pick designation. The Honda Ridgeline received this top award when it was outfitted with the optional advanced driver's assistance features and upgraded headlights.
Why are pickups falling behind cars and SUVs in terms of safety?
One of the biggest factors that many researchers feel is the cause behind the poor safety performance of pickups is the older designs that most of them use. Most cars and SUVs have gone through major overhauls in the past several years, improving the exteriors to better withstand crashes. Pickup trucks have not seen major design changes in years. For example, the Tundra's base design dates back to 2007, and the Nissan Frontier's last major redesign was 2005. Higher ranking vehicles such as the Tacoma recently received a redesign in 2016, and the Ridgeline saw one in 2017.
So, what does this mean for pickup truck enthusiasts?
If you are a pickup driver at heart, it is crucial to know the ratings when selecting your next vehicle. Always opt for better safety features such as upgraded headlights and drivers assistance feature when you can. But always be aware that just because your vehicle is larger, does not mean it can protect you in the event of a crash. Use extra caution to prevent major accidents and reduce your risk of injury.
If you have already suffered the effects of poorer safety on your pickup truck and were injured in a collision, seeking legal counsel may be the best way to help you get back on your feet financially and provide you with the best chance to recover your medical costs and lost wages.