The 2023 Chevorlet Colorado is one of the few pickup trucks to offer Automatic Emergency Braking.    -  Photo: Chevrolet

The 2023 Chevorlet Colorado is one of the few pickup trucks to offer Automatic Emergency Braking.  

Photo: Chevrolet

Rear-end crash rates were 43% lower for pickups equipped with automatic emergency braking (AEB) compared to those without it, keeping fleet drivers and the motoring public safer, according to a new study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

The new study also found that rear-end injury rates were 42% lower when the pickup was outfitted with AEB.

While the findings suggest that this crash avoidance technology enhances safety, pickups are less likely to have AEB than cars or SUVs. Surprisingly, the technology was standard on just 5% of registered pickups in 2021, compared with 18% of SUVs.

Pickups are large, weighty, and can pose a heightened danger due to their imposing size. Even so, manufacturers have been slow to equip them with AEB and other crash avoidance systems.

Yet the data confirms that AEB is reducing pickup crashes, just as it is for cars. That’s why IIHS is urging manufacturers to start equipping all new pickups with AEB that work at higher speeds and detects pedestrians in the dark and during the daytime.

Another important factor to note is that pickups that lack AEB to prevent collisions with other vehicles also lack systems that detect and avoid pedestrians. A separate IIHS study recently found that such systems reduce pedestrian crashes by 27%, though they are less effective at night.

Pickups can dominate the road and be more menacing than the average vehicle. For example, they are driven more often than other types of passenger vehicles in rural areas, where average speeds are higher and roads typically lack streetlights.

In 2020, 28% of U.S. rear-end crashes in which a pickup was the striking vehicle occurred at speed limits of 55 mph or higher, compared to only 23% of crashes in which the striking vehicle was a car and 20% in which the striking vehicle was an SUV.

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