In recent years, there has been a notable increase in the popularity of pickup trucks in Canada, with over 23% of vehicles sold in 2022 falling into this category. This rise in preference for trucks has coincided with a decline in sedan sales, indicating shifting consumer trends. However, it is important to examine the implications of this trend and consider its impact on our roads.
“For every 1000 pounds a car weighs over a Toyota Corolla, the chance of killing another person increases by 46%”. Pounds That Kill (Anderson and Auffhammer, 2011)
While speed is often the primary concern when discussing road safety, the size and weight of vehicles should not be overlooked. Heavier vehicles have also been associated with a higher risk of causing harm in accidents. Research suggests that for every 1000 pounds a car weighs over a Toyota Corolla, the chance of causing a fatality in an accident increases by 46%. These statistics highlight the need to consider factors beyond just speed when assessing road safety.
Comparing Viewlines of Various Trucks and Tanks (2023, Myles Russell, Civil Engineering Technologist)
Trucks are often marketed as “safer” by dealers and automakers, but it is essential to clarify whom they are referring to as safer. The focus is typically on the safety of the driver, rather than the impact on other road users. In two-car crashes, there is a concept known as crash incompatibility, which refers to certain vehicles inflicting more damage on others. As trucks increase in size, the safety of other vehicles on the road diminishes. This phenomenon has also influenced SUV manufacturers, leading to an upward spiral of increasing sizes to match the prevailing norms. Consequently, pedestrians, cyclists, and sedan drivers face significant disadvantages when sharing the road with larger vehicles.
Fatal Pedestrsian Crashes Between Sedans, SUVs, and Trucks (Pounds That Kill, Anderson and Auffhammer, 2011)
One concerning aspect is the reduced visibility for truck drivers due to their height. As trucks grow taller, pedestrians, cyclists, and smaller vehicles become less visible to the driver. This impaired visibility poses a greater risk for those sharing the road, leading to potentially dangerous situations. Studies have shown that even a lineup of 13 children in front of an SUV can go unnoticed by the driver, further highlighting the visibility challenges.
A Woman Standing In Front of A Truck (Angie Schitt, The Atlantic)
Unfortunately, fatal truck crashes have been on the rise. In 2021, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reported a 17% increase in fatal truck crashes compared to the previous year. Among the casualties, 68% were occupants of cars and other passenger vehicles, while 15% were pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists. These statistics indicate the need for increased attention to road safety and the potential risks associated with larger vehicles. It’s not surprising that pedestrian fatalities have risen by over 50% in the past decade.
“Most SUVs, minivans and pickup trucks have a front blind zone measuring between five and 10 feet, 2-3x larger than the blind zones of most sedans and hatchbacks.” Millions of Vehicles Have Unexpected, Dangerous Front Blind Zone (WTHR, Bob Segall, 2019)
It’s also worth considering the financial aspect of owning a truck. While trucks offer utility for certain tasks, such as towing, it may not be necessary for everyone to own one regularly. Renting a truck for specific needs, like towing an RV or transporting materials, can be a more cost-effective option. The average cost of owning a truck is estimated to be around $13,000 per year by the CAA, making renting a truck a viable alternative for those who don’t require it on a daily basis.
- Trucks are higher off the ground which prevents drivers from seeing what’s ahead
- They’re also so heavy that they are crash incompatible with all other vehicles
- This leads to smaller vehicles like sedans getting obliterated in a crash
- This also leads to a guaranteed fatality for any pedestrian or cyclist hit
- Lastly, large trucks have a high rollover rate which further endangers everyone else
- Trucks are safe for their drivers–they endanger everyone else on the road
The increasing popularity of pickup trucks and larger vehicles raises important considerations regarding road safety. While acknowledging the utility and preferences of truck owners, it is crucial to be mindful of the potential risks they pose to pedestrians, cyclists, and smaller vehicles. By promoting awareness and exploring alternative options, such as renting when necessary, we can strive to maintain a safer and more inclusive road environment for everyone.