Pickup trucks are consistently the best-selling vehicles in the U.S.
In fact, the top three best-selling vehicles across the country in 2016 were pickup trucks, and the most popular vehicle in both Kansas and Missouri is the Ford F-150 pickup, according to Auto Blog.
With all of these trucks on the road, you may wonder just how safe they are. As big, powerful vehicles, they appear to offer drivers and passengers a great deal of protection, but do they really? Learn about the safety concerns surrounding America’s most popular vehicles in this article.
The Dangers Of Riding In The Bed Of A Pickup Truck
The biggest risk associated with pickups is riding unrestrained in the bed of the truck. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the risk of death to passengers in the cargo area of a pickup is eight times higher than for restrained cab passengers in a collision.
Passengers riding in the truck bed can be injured or killed—even when there's not a truck accident. When a truck driver goes around a sharp turn, brakes suddenly, or accelerates quickly, people riding in the bed can be thrown out and run over by the truck or by a vehicle that's following.
Horseplay in the bed can also result in injuries to passengers. While 30 states have laws prohibiting passengers from riding in the bed of a pickup truck, most of them only apply to children.
In Missouri, people under age 18 are prohibited from riding in the cargo area of a truck with the following exceptions:
- Children may ride in the bed if the truck isn't being driven on the state highway system or within any city limit.
- Agricultural workers of any age may ride in the bed.
- The cargo area is covered by a cap.
- The truck is in a parade or another recreational activity.
- The truck is a family-owned vehicle with insufficient room in the cab for all passengers.
- Occupants in the bed are restrained by some kind of device.
In Kansas, people over age 14 may ride in the truck bed at any time, and those under 14 may ride in the bed for parades, for work, or while on a road that's not a state highway or in the corporate limits of a city or town.
Clearly, regardless of the law, it's unsafe to carry passengers in the bed of a pickup truck, and you should avoid this if at all possible. As the driver, you could be liable for the injury or wrongful death of a passenger riding in the bed.
Child Safety Seats
Pickup truck cabs can be dangerous places for children who should be buckled into safety seats. Unless the truck has a full-sized cab with a complete back seat, there's not a truly safe place to buckle in a child or infant seat. Car seats should never be installed in a side-facing jump seat. If the pickup has an undersized back seat, make sure the entire car seat fits on the seat, with no part of the seat hanging over the edge. This will help to reduce the risk of child injuries.
While it's legal to install a car seat in the front seat of a pickup if there's not a back seat, this isn't a safe place for a child to sit. If the car has a passenger-side air bag, it should be disabled when the child is sitting in the front seat.
Fewer Safety Features
Because pickup trucks are designed for commercial purposes and the manufacturers want to keep costs down, trucks lag behind in the safety features available on most cars. Without the driver warning systems and other crash-prevention technology available on cars and SUVs, trucks are inherently less safe.
Also, a truck's rigid exterior construction has an adverse effect in a crash: it doesn't absorb impact well, so passengers aren't protected by a crumple zone as they are in cars. In addition, a truck's high center of gravity can result in more rollover accidents.
Be Aware of Safety Limitations on Pickup Trucks
We don’t expect the residents of Kansas City will buy fewer pickup trucks because of these safety concerns. However, we do urge you to be aware of trucks' safety shortfalls and to do the most you can to protect your family when riding in your pickup.
If you're a passenger injured in a pickup truck, contact us online or call us directly at 816.471.5111 for your free consultation.