Pickup Trucks And Safety

By: Megan Stansfield

Recent news has the consumer population clamoring about whether or not the cars we drive are really safe. Forbes came out with an article on July 30, 2007 by Bengt Halvorson titled "Top 20 Most Dangerous Vehicles," that uncovered some unnerving facts about pickup trucks in general. According to the article, "Pickups as a class have the highest rate of fatality and serious injury," said Michael Dulberger, president of Informed for Life - a safety advocacy group.

Sound familiar? A few years back, we heard the same complaint about SUVs. The uproar - and America's reluctance to give up their SUVs despite safety concerns - prompted SUV manufacturers to add safety features to Sport Utility Vehicles.

Several pickup trucks, however, already have a leg up on the competition. Specifically, Isuzu's two high-performance pickup trucks: the i-290 and i-370. Both models offer a wide variety of safety features you might only expect to find on a Sport Utility.

The first and perhaps most important, is the Electronic Traction Control option which also includes Automatic Locking Rear Differential. The feature helps provide more controlled acceleration on slippery surfaces and in severe weather conditions by reducing engine power to reduce wheel spin. Another features is the pickup's push-system that allows the driver to shift from 2-wheel-drive to 4-wheel drive on-the-fly. Anti-Lock Braking Systems are a must when it comes to safety and Isuzu's pickups offer 4-wheel anti-lock brakes to reduce wheel lockup on slippery surfaces when the need to brake hard arises. Daytime running lights and a tire pressure monitoring system also make Isuzu's pickups safer than many competitors. The pickups also sport Head-Curtain Side Impact Airbags and an automatic Airbag Suppression System in the event that an accident should occur.

By comparison, here's a list of the pickup trucks that made the list of the Top 20 Most Dangerous: the Ford Ranger/Mazda B-Series which doesn't offer stability control, side airbags or curtain airbags; the Nissan Frontier (Extended Cab) ; and the Dodge Dakota 4-door pickup (side airbags and curtain airbags are optional). A few SUVs also made the list like the Nissan Xterra, and the remainder (as one might predict) was populated by very small economy cars such as the Saturn ION and Mazda3.

While the trend is typically to make vehicles safer by adding both passive and active safety features, the reality is that certain cars tend to fare better in accidents than others. Small, lightweight cars are no match in a collision with an SUV even if they possess enhanced safety features. While pickup trucks tend to fare better than cars in SUV collisions, it's evident from the aforementioned study that many pickup truck manufacturers simply aren't adding valuable safety features to their pickup lines in the way they are on SUVs.

Pickup truck enthusiasts shouldn't have to compromise safety to drive the vehicles they love. Demanding SUV safety features be added either as standard or optional to pickups is the first step. Purchasing pickups that have these features - like the Isuzu i-370 or i-290 - will entice others in the automotive industry to follow suit and soon, pickups will be as safe as SUVs.

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