4 large pickup trucks flub latest crash test, raising safety concerns, study shows

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has identified four large pickup trucks that flubbed in the agency's latest crash test. 

The Ram 1500 crew cab, Ford F-150 crew cab and Toyota Tundra crew cab — all 2023 models — did well in the side crash test. While the 2023 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 crew cab rated acceptable. 

However, when it came to the front crash tests and protecting back seat passengers, only the Tundra managed a marginal rating while the F-150, Ram 1500 and Silverado all rated poorly. 

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"Like most other vehicle classes, large pickups don’t perform as well in the new moderate overlap evaluation as they do in the updated side test, which is now a requirement for our TOP SAFETY PICK awards," IIHS President David Harkey said in a news release.


Credit: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

IIHS conducted the updated test after research showed that in new vehicles, the risk of a deadly injury was higher for belted occupants in the second row than for those in front. 

Researchers said it's not because the second row has become dangerous but rather the front seat has become safer because of improved airbags and advanced seat belts that are rarely available in back.

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Still, they still note that the back seat is the safest place for children, and the rating didn't apply to children who were in child safety seats.  

In the latest test, a second dummy, the size of a small woman or 12-year-old child, was positioned in the second row behind the driver's seat. The drive dummy is the size of an average adult man. 

For a vehicle to earn a good rating, there can't be an excessive risk of injury to the head, neck, chest or thigh on the second dummy. The second dummy should also survive the crash without "submarining," or sliding forward beneath the lap belt, which increases the risk of abdominal injuries. 

IIHS said all four pickups did well with the driver dummy, but not with the rear dummy. 

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"Submarining was a problem for all four pickups, and belt forces were too high in all but the Tundra," Harkey said.

According to Reuters, Toyota declined to comment. GM and Ford did not respond to requests for comment. Stellantis, the maker of Ram, told the outlet said "we routinely consider third-party ratings and factor them into our product-development process, as appropriate."

The outlet also reported that traffic deaths jumped sharply during COVID-19 and remain significantly above pre-pandemic levels. The number of people killed in the first six months of 2023 fell to the lowest number since the same period in 2020 but still higher than the first half of any pre-pandemic year since 2006.

This story was reported from Los Angeles.