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Because pickup trucks are taller, heavier, have bigger blind spots, take longer to brake, and lack safety features compared to cars and SUVs, a new report by Consumer Reports found that this makes them more dangerous to pedestrians and smaller vehicles out in the roads.
The publication measured the front visibility for 15 new vehicles, including full-sized and heavy-duty trucks. They found that some trucks had front blind spots 11 feet longer than those in some sedans and seven feet longer than in many popular SUVs because of the truck’s height and long hoods.
Jennifer Stockburger, director of operations at Consumer Reports’ Auto Test Center, explained that when a driver hits someone in their front blind spot while maneuvering in a driveway or parking lot, it’s called a “frontover” collision, noting that small children are especially vulnerable to these kinds of crashes. According to the advocacy group KidsAndCars.org, there were more than 931 frontover fatalities between 1990 and 2019, with most victims between 12 and 23 months old. Over 80% of those fatalities involved a truck, a van, or an SUV.
Moreover, a Consumer Reports analysis of industry data showed that the hood height of passenger trucks has increased by an average of at least 11% since 2000 and that new pickups grew 24% heavier on average from 2000 to 2018. On some heavy-duty trucks, like the Ford F-250, the front edge of the hood is now 55 inches or more off the ground.
Per Consumer Reports’ data, drivers have poorer front sight lines, thus creating a blind spot that can hide a pedestrian or smaller car right in front, as aforementioned. William Wallace, Consumer Reports’ manager of safety policy reportedly called the trends alarming. “Automakers must put safety first for people inside and outside the vehicle,” he said.
Known as the most pedestrian-unfriendly vehicles on roadways nationwide, sales of SUVs and pickups continue to soar, with no signs of slowing down any time soon. Megacars account for a staggering 75.9% of new car sales — a number that’s up from 53% just eight years ago. This is despite the fact that people on foot are up to three times more likely to be killed when struck by the drivers of such vehicles.
Pedestrians struck by a large SUV are reportedly twice as likely to be killed as those hit by a car. Over the past 10 years, the number of pedestrian deaths involving SUVs went up 81%, well above the increase in passenger-car related deaths. The megacar boom is widely acknowledged to be a primary driver of the U.S. pedestrian death crisis, but it’s also killing other motorists. The drivers of smaller cars are 158% more likely to be killed by pick-up truck drivers in the event of a collision, and 28% more likely if they’re struck by someone behind the wheel of an SUV.
Moreover, that death toll is not uniformly distributed. Women, low-income people, and people of color though they’re are all less likely to buy big cars, they’re also disproportionately more likely to be killed by the driver of one, whether they’re on foot or driving themselves. In direct contrast, market research firm Strategic Vision found during the 2020 edition of its New Vehicle Experience Study, which drew from more than 46,000 respondents, that pickup truck and SUV buyers skew white, Republican voters, and relatively wealthy.