When you walk onto the lot of a Greenbelt-area car dealership, one of the first things you’ll notice is that large vehicles dominate the inventory. America has an enormous appetite for big SUVs, crossovers and pick-up trucks.
“Size creep” is evident across brands and models, as vehicles get bigger every year. Customers love it because they want more headroom, more legroom and more room to haul their stuff. Automakers love it, too, because profit margins on large SUVs are among the industry’s biggest, topped only by the profits generated by full-size pick-up trucks.
Safety advocates don’t love size creep, however. They point out that increases in pick-up size and weight make the bulkier trucks more lethal than ever in motor vehicle crashes and pedestrian accidents.
The best-selling vehicles in the U.S. are pick-ups: Ford’s F-Series, the Chevrolet Silverado and Chrysler’s Ram.
Consumer Reports says that modern trucks often weigh more than 4,000 pounds, with tall hoods and large blind spots. Though they represent the latest in truck design, today’s big pick-ups are put together with the traditional body-on-frame construction method that adds weight and bulk to vehicles, which increases fuel consumption while decreasing performance and handling.
Digging into data
Consumer Reports analyzed auto industry data to determine that the hood height of pick-ups has increased by at least 11 percent since 2000 and that from 2000 to 2018, the weight of passenger trucks has risen 24 percent on average.
Taller, heavier pick-ups “are particularly deadly in crashes with pedestrians and smaller, lighter vehicles,” says the nonprofit consumer organization. Why? “Drivers have poorer front sight lines, creating a blind spot that can hide a pedestrian or smaller car right in front.”
Accident numbers growing, too
Size creep is evident in traffic crash statistics as well. Even though Americans drove less last year, fatalities topped 42,000 and there were 4.8 million seriously injured in crashes, an 8 percent increase from 2019.
Pedestrian fatalities increased 46 percent in the past decade, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association.
Reasons for the rise in roadway carnage include distracted driving, say safety experts, as well a growing body of research that points to expanding pick-up dimensions that can result in greater damage when the vehicles collide with pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcycles and smaller vehicles.
Those injured in the collisions can explore their legal options in a conversation with an attorney experienced in personal injury litigation.