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Consumer Reports: America’s favorite vehicles are also its most dangerous

As regular readers of our blog undoubtedly know, the most popular vehicles in our part of the U.S. –and similarly more rural, less urban places – are pick-up trucks. These versatile vehicles can tow trailers and boats, ATVs, hay, and firewood, as well as carry tools, lumber and much more.

There’s a long list of upsides to pick-ups, which is why the three best-selling vehicles in the U.S. are pick-ups: Ford’s F-Series, the Chevrolet Silverado and Ram trucks.

Imperfections

Pick-ups have a few downsides, of course. Because passenger trucks are steadily growing by an inch or two every time a new model rolls out, their increasingly high and wide hoods reduce visibility.

Consumer Reports says full-size models (which account for more than three-quarters of all pick-ups sold) often weigh more than 5,000 pounds and have “tall hoods, large blind spots and stiff body-on-frame designs” that “are particularly deadly in crashes with pedestrians and smaller, lighter vehicles.”

Bulking up

The consumer advocacy organization’s analysis shows that the hood height of pick-ups has increased by an average of 11 percent since 2000 – and that the class of vehicles grew 24 percent heavier from 2000 to 2018.

The higher hoods create blind spots that hide pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists, as well as some smaller cars that are directly in front of the pick-up.

Grim statistics

Despite a decrease in miles traveled last year, injuries and fatalities in motor vehicle crashes increased 8 percent. The carnage on the nation’s roads is telling: more than 42,000 people died in wrecks and 4.8 million were seriously injured in wrecks in 2020.

Consumer Reports is clear that the increases can’t be blamed solely on pick-up trucks, but that the expanding dimensions of passenger trucks is contributing to the deadliness of auto accidents, especially crashes involving people who are walking, riding a bicycle or motorcycle, or who are in smaller motor vehicles.

The full price of design choices

Safety advocates argue that truck designers could easily reduce weight and lower hoods, but that manufacturers want imposing front ends. After all, models featuring a “tough” look are best-sellers that generate enormous profits. (The profit margins on loaded full-size pick-ups are from two to five times larger than those for typical cars, a JD Power spokesperson said.)

Unfortunately, bigger vehicles come with higher risks of causing severe head injuries because they’re more likely to cause head-to-hood contact – and also more likely to knock pedestrians down and then run over them.

Those who are injured in a crash caused by a reckless, impaired or distracted driver have the right to pursue full compensation with the help of an attorney experienced in personal injury litigation.

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