As pickup trucks grow in popularity and size, we are learning there are some genuine dangers that need to be considered as more people move to these big pickup trucks. Even the Jeep Gladiator, which is technically a midsize truck, is objectively huge. Just last year, a young driver killed a pedestrian because he couldn’t see the senior citizen over the Jeep‘s hood. So what do we do about these hidden dangers of driving big pickup trucks?
Consumer Reports is worried about the size of your pickup truck
According to Consumer Reports, last December, an 18-year-old driver accidentally killed a pedestrian crossing the street because he claims he simply couldn’t see her. After an extensive investigation, the driver was never cited nor charged with any crime or civil suit.
A family member of the victim has since started a group called Families for Safe Streets in New York. This group is urging the New York Legislature to lower speed limits in crowded urban areas. The other regulation the group is pushing for is warnings upon purchasing bigger vehicles like the Jeep Gladiator in question.
Trucks have the worst blind spots by a long shot
Consumer Reports decided to test the blind spots on pickup trucks, and the findings were alarming. CR measured the blind spot distance for 15 new pickup trucks. The test subjects were mostly in the full-size and heavy-duty pickup truck segments.
Due to most of these trucks’ height and sheer size, some models had blind spots that stretched 11 feet longer than some sedans and seven feet longer than some SUVs. This is an extremely alarmingly huge blind spot.
We tend to think of blind spots as that weird little spot over your shoulder that requires a bit of faith (and a blinker) to safely change lanes. However, these massive pickup trucks have significant blind spots directly in front of the vehicle. Jennifer Stockburger, director of operations at Consumer Reports’ Auto Test Center calls accidents of people being hit while in this front blind spot as a “frontover.”
Small children are particularly vulnerable to frontovers
“Small children are especially vulnerable to frontover crashes,” she says. She goes on to say that between 1990 and 2019, there were more than 931 frontover fatalities. The majority of the victims were between the ages of 23-months- and 12-years-old.
The ever-increasing desire for increasingly huge pickup trucks is a real safety concern. Not only are these trucks harboring massive blind spots, but they are also getting heavier and taller. The weight and height of these full-size pickup trucks are also usually sitting on rigid body-on-frame designs that are known to be less nimble on the road.
How can we fix these dangerous pickup trucks?
Is it a coincidence that as our love for bigger trucks and SUVs increases, so too have car accident fatalities? Last year saw the lowest mileage driven by Americans and the highest death toll in the recent past. These horrible numbers not only implicate the massive pickups but also shines a bright light on the social and economic inequities of our country. The research simply shows that low-income people are more likely to be struck due to how often they are walking instead of driving.
If that isn’t enough, elderly pedestrians and wheelchair users are also at higher risk of mortality when hit by a vehicle. And, you guessed it, Black, Hispanic, and Indigenous Americans are overrepresented in pedestrian crash fatalities.
Of course, not all of these gut-wrenching figures are due to massive pickup trucks. However, they definitely play a part. Hopefully, the growing number of driver aids and exterior sensors and cameras can start to assuage this painful reality.