Big pickup trucks have a lot of benefits. They can tow and haul a lot and you can fit more people in larger cabs. Yet there’s a major problem with big trucks, and that’s their safety. While you may be safe if you’re in a big pickups, they’re not exactly safe for everyone else on the road. So what’s causing pickups to get bigger, and what kind of threat does that pose to everyone else?
Why are pickup trucks so dangerous?
Pickup trucks are dangerous to other motorists because of their size. While smaller pickups are a lot like SUVs, larger pickups pose a threat because of their size and weight as well as the blind spots in them. There are a ton of them on the road, too. Consumer Reports says that 1 in every 5 vehicles is a pickup truck and the top three highest-selling vehicles in the United States are pickup trucks.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety notes that the tall front end of pickups line up with some pretty vulnerable spots on the human body. Becky Mueller, a senior research engineer, say that the front end and higher bumper are a bigger risk to a person’s hips and pelvis. Consumer Reports notes that smaller pedestrians are at further risk because their heads are at that same level, and Mueller agrees. She also adds that trucks are more likely to not only hit a person, but to run them over.
Why are pickups getting bigger?
Trucks are getting bigger because people want them to be. Consumer Reports asked some major auto manufacturers why trucks keep getting bigger. They got no response from Stellantis. A “spokesperson from Ford said they had “shifted from softer lines” because “customers prefer more purposeful looks.”
On top of that, big pickups make up the bulk of pickup sales. 79% of pickups sold are full-size trucks, like the Ford F-150, Chevy Silverado, and Ram 1500. This is 12% higher than in the year 2000, when just 67% of pickups were full-size pickups.
J.D. Power agrees that that plays a role in pickups” size increasing. Tyson Jominy, the vice president for data and analytics, said, “Trucks could look less tough, but you don’t want to be the one to make your truck look soft.” He also believes car manufacturers can charge four or five times as much for a pickup than a car not only because of what they can do, but because of the image they project.
Big trucks are a lifestyle
That image that pickups give off is a huge part of their sales appeal. Pickup trucks send big and tough messages to the world which makes them a draw for some. Consumer Reports also notes that they can be seen as status symbols. In addition, because big pickup trucks don’t have to follow the same gas-guzzing guidelines as other vehicles, there’s an added incentive to buy them.
There’s certainly a functionality to large pickups, too. GM blames the size increase on off-roading as well as a greater need for towing and cargo space. Both GM and Ford said that increased towing capacity means pickups need bigger grilles for more efficient cooling.