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How Safe are Passengers in Pickups?

By Texas Personal Injury Attorney on May 2, 2020

When car companies design a new vehicle, each model is put through a series of crash tests to identify safety features and weak points in the vehicle’s structure. Most vehicles are designed to properly absorb the impact for the rear and the front of the car, and seatbelts and airbags provide additional support in the event of an accident. However, the side and corners of vehicles offer the least protection for passengers.

Accidents involving the corner of a vehicle are referred to as small-overlap crashes and are easily recognizable for the damage done to the headlights and side windshields. Sadly, it was not until 2012 that the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety began rating vehicles the safety of the driver’s side small-overlap, and the passenger side was not tested until 2017. Because of this delay, manufacturers have been rushing to improve the ratings of newer vehicles, but one group has lagged behind.

The Risk to Passengers in Pickups

Due to the size and weight of a pickup, passengers face significantly more chances of being injured than in a small vehicle, and this is especially evident in head-on collisions. Despite efforts to improve passenger safety features, 2019 pickups have not reached the safety standards that other vehicles demonstrated, according to the IIHS. In contrast, the driver’s side for most models has received higher quality scores.

When reviewing a vehicle’s safety features, researchers conducted five different tests on the model:

  • Small-overlap front test
  • Medium-overlap front test
  • Side test
  • Roof-strength test
  • Head-restraints-and-seat test

These tests were rated in one of four categories: poor, marginal, acceptable, and good. Among these tests, only a handful of pickups were identified as achieving acceptable to good ratings for passenger-side protection.

Pickups with Acceptable Ratings

The only pickup to be eligible for the IIHS’s 2019 TOP SAFETY PICK award is the Honda Ridgeline, which is was rated as acceptable in the passenger-side crash tests. This is due to two factors: high-quality front crash protection and headlights, both of which are lacking in all other pickup models. In addition to the Ridgeline, the Toyota Tacoma was also rated acceptable in the passenger-side test. Sadly, it is not eligible for the award because the headlights are not up to IIHS’s standards.

Pickups with Good Ratings

Only three pickups have achieved good ratings when tested for small-overlap crashes: the Ford F-150, Nissan Titan, and Ram 1500. All other models demonstrated an inability to maintain their structure in crash tests, which would put passengers at risk for blunt force trauma and crush injuries.

Poor and Marginal Pickups

Of the 11 vehicles reviewed by the IIHS, five were rated marginal and one received a poor rating, the Toyota Tundra. In a small-overlap crash test, the Toyota Tundra suffered severe damage to its structure, resulting in damage to the head and lower right leg of the passenger crash test dummy.

The remaining vehicles – the Nissan Frontier, GMC Sierra 1500, GMC Canyon, Chevrolet Colorado, and Chevrolet Silverado 1500 – all received marginal ratings in the passenger-side test.

Recovering Compensation After a Pickup Accident

Pickups are invaluable vehicles for working class drivers in Texas. They make it easy to haul large equipment, tools, and materials, and their engines demonstrate superior hauling capabilities. However, the safety risks can result in serious injuries to passengers in an accident, even if you have a defensive driver.

If a negligent driver collides were your pickup, resulting in serious injuries, contact the Longview personal injury attorneys at Sorey, Gilliland & Hull, LLP. We can thoroughly review the accident, your medical records, and the damage to your vehicle to determine the proper compensation you deserve. Call us at (903) 212-2822 to schedule a free consultation – even if you are out of the Longview area, we can travel to you.

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