Consumer Reports Scolds 1 Full-Size 2022 Pickup Truck for Charging Extra for Lifesaving Technology

The number of deaths due to crashes is on the rise. Many automakers are combating the car safety epidemic by offering automatic emergency braking (AEB) on every vehicle. But Ram charges extra for this lifesaving driver assistance technology and Consumer Reports is not impressed.

Automatic emergency braking (AEB) is not required in the U.S.

A smashed bicycle on the pavement, surrounded by police cruisers, after a crash with a pickup truck.
The aftermath of a collision with a pickup truck | Lewis Geyer/Digital First Media/Boulder Daily Camera via Getty Images

Automatic emergency braking (AEB) is a type of driver-assistance system. AEB detects obstacles with the same forward-facing cameras or radar arrays as adaptive cruise control.

First, the forward collision warning (FCW) system alerts the driver to stop or take evasive maneuvers. But if that doesn’t work, full AEB can use the automatic braking system (ABS) to stop your vehicle for you.

Engineers first invented AEB to detect other cars. But AEB systems have become more precise every year. Today, most automakers offer AEB with pedestrian detection. See more about how AEB works in the video below:

Though AEB systems are far from perfect, they can operate well at low speeds and are invaluable for avoiding obstacles that might be in the driver’s blind spot. This is especially important in pickup trucks with their large blindspots.

Japan required automakers to offer AEB on all 2021 model year vehicles. The European Union has a similar mandate going into effect May 2022. But the United States is taking it a bit easier on automakers. The Land of the Free is rolling out a mandate for the 2025 model year.

Even though AEB is not required, many American automakers have volunteered to install the aid in new vehicles. AEB comes standard on all but one full-size 2022 pickup truck.

AEB is not standard safety equipment on the Ram 1500

Crashed Ram truck | John Ewing/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

RAM offers AEB (called active braking) on its 2022 1500 pickup truck. But the lifesaving technology is a feature of the $595 Safety Group package. Also available are forward collision warning (FCW) and Pedestrian emergency braking.

It gets worse. Back in 2016, RAM signed a pledge to include AEB on every pickup truck by September 2022. Every other truck manufacturer upheld their end of the bargain. RAM vowed to keep pedestrians safe, but has yet to fulfill its promise.

Consumer Reports is not impressed. In its 2022 Ram 1500 review, the publication says, “We think FCW and AEB should be standard, especially at this price.” And Consumer Reports has a point: An entry-level Ram 1500 costs more than its counterparts from Ford or General Motors.

We hope Ram does a mid-year refresh and adds AEB to its trucks, sooner rather than later.

Do pickup trucks kill more pedestrians?

Crashed Ram truck | Cliff Grassmick/Digital First Media/Boulder Daily Camera via Getty Images

RELATED: Only One Full-Size Truck Made The ‘American-Made’ List

The number of pedestrians struck and killed by vehicles is on the rise. Consumer Reports shares that pedestrian fatalities have shot up 46% over the past decade. A “growing body of research” points to the proliferation of pickup trucks with huge blindspots and little safety equipment as partially to blame.

Trucks are growing more popular, and they get bigger with every redesign. Driving a tall truck with a long hood makes it difficult to see a pedestrian, especially a child.

Many full-size trucks weigh in at 4,000+ pounds; a pickup carries a lot of momentum, even when moving slowly. Worse, newer trucks with hoods over 50 inches high will strike most younger pedestrians in the head instead of the body or legs.

If a driver hits a pedestrian who they cannot see, the accident is called a “frontover.” The majority of “frontover” fatalities kill toddlers between one and two years old. And 80% involve a truck, van, or SUV.

Clear solutions to the frontover problem would be lower pickup truck hoods and standard forward-facing cameras that turn on–just like reverse cameras–at low speeds. In addition, all vehicle manufacturers with automatic emergency braking systems should be including them as standard equipment.

Pickup trucks with automatic emergency braking (AEB)

Crashed Ram truck | Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Ford offers AEB standard on all trim levels of the 2022 F-150. Ford’s software is tuned for both city speed and highway speeds and comes with pedestrian detection. Rear AEB for backing up is optional, not standard.

General Motors offers almost as much AEB technology standard. Every 2022 Silverado and Sierra has AEB rated for both city speed driving and pedestrian detection. Highway speed AEB is an upsell and these vehicles do not offer rear AEB.

Nissan equips every 2022 Titan with AEB. This system is rated for city speed, highway speed, and pedestrian detection. But rear AEB is not an option on the Titan.

The all-new 2022 Toyota Tundra has an all-new safety system. Every trim of the truck comes with the Toyota Safety Sense 2.5 suite of driver aids. This includes front and rear parking assist with AEB and pedestrian warning.

A matter of life and death

Vigil to a pedestrian fatality | Christoph Soeder/picture alliance via Getty Images

We understand “feature creep” threatens to make new cars and trucks too expensive. In addition, entry-level Ram 1500 trucks come with no radar arrays or cameras to use for AEB.

That said, every other truck maker has found a way to make AEB standard safety equipment. Most of these full-size trucks begin at a lower price than the Ram 1500.

In the aerospace industry, manufacturers don’t consider safety advances a “competitive advantage.” To this end, they all freely share safety technology with competitors. Perhaps it’s time for automakers to do the same: this is a matter of life and death.

RELATED: Tesla Refused To Recall Autopilot Cars Crashing Into First Responders, Government Demands Answers