Do Small Trucks Fall Short on Safety?

a small truck, auto accident

Driving small trucks may pose a considerable risk of injury or death for drivers. As with compact cars, small trucks have less mass which means they have reduced capacity to absorb the energy that is transmitted in an automobile accident. Many small truck owners purchase smaller trucks to save money and reduce fuel expenses, however, it is a purchase that may result in greater risk to personal safety and higher medical expenses if an accident occurs.

Dangers of Small Truck Accidents

Small trucks have considerably less mass than larger trucks. In many cases, they are not much heavier than sedans and other passenger vehicles. In an accident, the light mass of the truck may not be able to absorb the force of the impact with another vehicle or a fixed object. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently raised concerns that some light pickup trucks offer only marginal protection against injuries in an accident.

The IIHS also cited the significant differences in standard safety equipment noting the effectiveness of forward collision warning systems and automatic braking systems at reducing accidents and preventing injuries. In particular, the IIHS expressed concern over the potential for injuries to the lower extremities that exists within some small trucks. These can occur when the vehicle experiences either a front-end or side-impact collision.

Understanding NHTSA and IIHS Safety Ratings

Vehicles are rated using standards set by the National Highway Safety Transportation Administration (NHTSA) and the IIHS. NHTSA ratings assign stars to a vehicle based on its performance during standard crash testing while IIHS ratings are good, acceptable, marginal, or poor. Both the NHTSA and IIHS use standards that are tailored for each vehicle class. Thus, it is incorrect to assume that two vehicles with the same safety rating offer the same amount of protection. The reality is that a large truck with a 4-star or “acceptable” safety rating may perform the same in a crash as a smaller truck with a 5-star or “good” star safety rating.

Liability for Small Truck Injuries

An auto accident lawyer can help victims pursue compensation for small truck accident injuries including medical expenses, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, pain and suffering, etc. Individuals may pursue compensation against other motorists whose negligent actions caused the accident, business owners whose properties pose a risk to navigation that contributed to the accident, or automobile manufacturers whose design defects place drivers and their passengers in danger.