Why Can’t Pickups Get Better Safety Ratings?

Of all of the full-size pickups built by US manufacturers, only the Ram 1500 gets a Top Safety Pick + from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety. And beyond that only one other manufacturer even gets a Top Safety Pick; for the Honda Ridgeline. Why can’t full-size pickups get better safety ratings?

When you review the top-rated full-size pickups for safety it’s disheartening that only the Ram 1500 and Ridgeline are in that group. You’d think that all of the manufacturers would strive for this metric above most others. First-it’s about safety; and second, it’s a rating. All manufacturers should want to be first in any rating of good and bad. 

How are the safety ratings determined?

The IIHS has different tests it conducts that determine the rating. Most of them involve some type of impact on a barrier. Test dummies are strapped into the vehicles and they are then powered into the barriers at specified speeds. The results are then measured and indications of injuries from the dummies recorded. 

IIHS Safety Ratings 2019 Full-Size Pickups
IIHS Safety Ratings 2019 Full-Size Pickups

The rating at the top is a “Good” rating. Then in order is “Acceptable”, “Marginal”, and at the bottom “Poor”. In almost every test all of the full-size pickups get a “Good” rating. There are random exceptions, but mostly it’s all good. So, why can’t these pickups get a safety award?

Believe it or not, the safety issues come down to one thing

Believe it or not, it mostly comes down to a Marginal or Poor rating for headlights. It would seem that is the one thing manufacturers have control over more than anything else in the test. Right? The reason that the Ram 1500 and Ridgeline got Safety + and Safety ratings is because of their headlights. 

Actually, the Good ratings were for each of these pickup’s optional lighting. Standard lighting for all full-size pickups got either a Marginal or Poor rating from the IIHS. Granted, there were other issues that plagued certain trucks that added to lowering certain other ratings. But, if each of the manufacturers can improve the lighting for these trucks a lot more of them would have Top Safety Pick ratings. 

It sounds like this is an easy fix for manufacturers

The optional LED headlights found only on the Ridgeline and Ram 1500 have Good safety ratings. In fact, the Ridgeline received a Poor rating for its standard lighting so the LED headlights saved the day so to speak. 

We know that for 2020 there will be more LED lighting popping up on new pickups. It’s cheaper to make and uses less amperage than conventional headlights. With the proliferation of so much electronics making its way into vehicles the less of a strain you put on the system the better. So, this is a win-win on many levels. 

The IIHS rating chart also offers some other insights into how each of these pickups performs under the worst conditions-that being an accident. You might want to look it over to see where the potential truck in your future rates safety-wise.