When you walk onto a new car dealership’s lot, the biggest, boldest vehicles are the pick-up trucks. Automakers put a lot of effort into making pick-ups imposing eye candy with serious towing power, optional four-wheel drive, large dashboard screens and comfortable interiors.
Their attention pays off, too. The three best-selling vehicles so far this year are all pick-ups: the Ford F-Series sits on top, followed closely by the fast-rising Ram truck line-up and Chevrolet’s reliably popular Silverado.
America’s love affair with pick-ups
Twenty percent of all new vehicles sold in the U.S. are pick-ups.
Seemingly, the only things larger than our appetite for big pick-ups are the trucks themselves.
According to Consumer Reports, the hood height of pick-ups has risen by an average of 11 percent since 2000 and they added heft, too: growing an average 24 percent heavier from 2000 to 2018.
Heavy-duty models such as Ford’s F-250 are even bigger. The front edge of its hood is 55 inches off the ground.
A good view with an important exception
While pick-up owners undoubtedly enjoy the views from ever-taller trucks – they can look right over sedans, sports cars and most crossovers – there is often no view at all of the pedestrians and small cars directly and closely in front of pick-ups. They’re in a blind spot created by poor design driven by marketing rather than concerns for safety.
Some pick-ups have front blind spots 11 feet longer than in some cars and 7 feet longer than in some popular SUVs.
The enlarged pick-up blind spots can result in violent crashes, serious injuries and fatalities.
Like the crash late last year when the driver of a Jeep Gladiator pick-up struck Eva Barcza as she was taking a walk near her suburban home. One account contained a heartbreaking description: “Her husband of 60 years found her lying in a crosswalk crying in pain from broken bones and serious internal injuries.”
The teacher and grandmother died a few hours later in a hospital.
The pick-up driver told police that he didn’t see her in the crosswalk. No charges were filed.
The hood of a Gladiator is 45.5 inches high – nearly 10 inches lower than an F-250’s.
Traffic down, fatalities up
Though traffic was dramatically lower for a significant portion of last year, there were 42,000 people killed and 4.8 million seriously injured in wrecks last year – an 8 percent increase over the year before.
Pedestrian fatalities rose 46 percent over the past year.
More and more research indicates that the grim numbers are due, in part, to the increasing height and weight of pick-ups.
Big trucks, bigger profits
Safety advocates say the solution is obvious: lower the hoods and reduce the weights. Automakers, however, are reluctant to mess with a sales formula that generates enormous profits and ever taller, heavier trucks.
The toll that their marketing and design choices take on people is largely ignored.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a crash, ensure that all medical needs are taken care of first and foremost. Then take time to review your legal options.