Pickup trucks had come a long way since 1925 when Henry Ford introduced his Ford Model T Runabout with Pickup Body. A few years prior to its 100th birthday, the pickup truck is a popular vehicle choice, primarily for its practicality. The growingly large beds can be used to transport large items or installing a camper for vacations.
Pickups continue their prominence with more U.S. drivers buying full-size and heavy-duty trucks. Over the course of the pandemic, buyers had a voracious appetite. May of 2020 saw pickup trucks outpacing cars in sales for the very first time and accounting for half of the top-selling vehicles.
Size seems to matter
Pickup trucks are now 1,300 pounds heavier than they were in 1990, with many prominent pickup models coming in at almost 7,000 pounds. Some hoods are at forehead level. The near wall-size height of the front end/grill can reach a grown man’s shoulders or neck. Bumpers dwarf young children on far too many “mega-trucks.”
Last year, 85 percent of these large vehicles sold featured crew cabs and extended crew cab with four doors and a five-person capacity. Single cabs are seemingly out of fashion. The growth of these transports goes beyond consumer interest. Physically, pickup trucks have become behemoths with prominent blind spots/zones that are presenting severe safety risks, particularly with pedestrians.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is seeing a surge in pedestrian mortality rates in accidents that involve these giants of the road. Women who traditionally buy smaller vehicles and tend to avoid risky behavior and collisions are now suffering more serious and fatal injuries due to pickup trucks.
Smaller vehicles at risk
The truck trend is contributing to another troubling crash-related disparity: In a new study, the IIHS shows that women — who tend choose smaller vehicles — are suffering higher injury and death rates than their male counterparts, despite the fact that women engage in fewer risks and crash less.
When it comes to vehicles, perhaps smaller is better and safer.