Today’s pickups — which can have tall hoods, large blind spots, and often exceed 4,000 pounds — are particularly deadly in crashes with pedestrians and smaller, lighter vehicles, according to a recent analysis from Consumer Reports (CR).
CR’s analysis of industry data shows the hood height of passenger trucks has increased approximately 11% since 2000 and new pickups got 24% heavier on average from 2000 to 2018.
Due to their height and long hoods, CR found some trucks had front blind spots 11 feet longer than those in some sedans, and 7 feet longer than in many popular SUVs.
The blind spot problem is leading to more frontover fatalities, particularly with small children. In fact, there were more than 931 frontover fatalities between 1990 and 2019. Over 80% of those fatalities involved a pickup truck, van, or SUV, according to the report.
Over 42,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes in the U.S. in 2020—an 8% spike over 2019. Moreover, pedestrian fatalities rose 46% over the past decade, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association.
Safety advocates cite an array of culprits for these alarming fatality statistics, including risky behaviors like distracted driving, impaired driving, and speeding. But there is a growing body of evidence that suggests the increasing dimensions of pickups may be contributing to the deadliness of certain collisions, especially when one hits a person, cyclist, or smaller vehicle.
CR testing found bigger vehicles in general have a harder time avoiding crashes, with pickups and other large vehicles routinely doing worse in emergency handling and braking evaluations. What’s more, when a truck and car collide, the car’s driver is 1.59 times more likely to die than in two-vehicle crashes without a pickup involved, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
The CR report also notes a second safety issue concerning pickups. Despite bigger blind spots and longer braking distances, pickups are less likely than cars and SUVs to come with standard safety features such as automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection and blind spot warning.