Consumer Reports: Are Big Pickup Trucks Becoming a Big Hazard?

The jury is still out on this one. Big pickup trucks have been in the news lately because trucks seem to get bigger with each passing day. However, trucks aren’t the only ones with poor visibility.

Are big trucks safer than cars?

Big trucks like the 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD are in the news
Big trucks like the 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD LT are in the news | Chevrolet

Consumer Reports recently put out a report about the hidden dangers of big trucks. The article noted that a 2020 Jeep Gladiator hit and killed a woman in New Jersey. The driver of the Jeep said he did not see Eva Barcza as she walked through a crosswalk. Eva’s daughter has been working with the group Families for Safe Streets to make New York streets safer for pedestrians. Additionally, the group wants to have automakers warn potential buyers about the dangers of driving large trucks.

Consumer Reports did some testing and found an area below the line of sight in larger trucks that is completely out of view. Jennifer Stockburger, director of operations at Consumer Reports testing center, says that “Small children are especially vulnerable to frontover crashes.” A frontover crash is when a driver hits someone in that blind spot at the very front of the vehicle. Over 80% of the fatalities between 1990 and 2019 for this type of crash took place in a truck, van, or SUV.

Consumer Reports analyzed the hood height of passenger vehicles. Since the year 2000, the hood heigh of passenger trucks has increased by 11%. Pickup trucks grew 24% heavier, and the front of some vehicles is 55 inches off the ground. But while all of these statistics are alarming, are trucks the only issue?

Big pickup trucks are not the only issue

Pickup trucks might be large, but there are many dangerous vehicles on the road other than trucks. Many cars and compact SUVs like crossovers have blind spots that inhibit drivers from maneuvering. Consumer Reports published a report back in 2019 with cars and SUVs with the best and worst visibility.

“Our findings show that, in general, sedans have better visibility than SUVs, with some exceptions,” CR reported. For example, there are many smaller cars on the list like the Chevy Spark, Toyota C-HR, Mercedes-Benz CLA, and Chevrolet Camaro. In the SUV category, the Nissan Murano, Nissan Pathfinder, and GMC Terrain made the list.

Visibility is an issue across the board for vehicles. In fact, many modern trucks are equipped with camera systems that actually make visibility better. Ford actually offers a 360-degree camera package for the trucks that don’t offer it already. It uses four cameras to stitch together an image that shows the driver 360-degrees around the truck.

But even with all of that, are we heading in the wrong direction for the safety of pedestrians and others on the road?

Where do automakers go from here?

At this point, it seems visibility is an issue across the board. The bigger trucks have bigger mirrors and other technology like 360-cameras to help assist. SUVs and smaller cars don’t have such technology unless you go straight for a Tesla. If the automotive industry continues to favor cars, trucks, and SUVs with huge blind spots, there will be serious consequences.

Even with the extra safety features like blind-spot warning and pedestrian detection, these are optional additions for the most part. Will automotive manufacturers make these features standard soon? It might be the only logical step forward.

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