Some pickup trucks fail to protect passengers in the rear seat, study finds


Four popular pickup trucks do a poor job of protecting back-seat passengers in some crashes, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

For the 2023 model year, the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 crew cab, Ford F-150 crew cab, Ram 1500 crew cab and Toyota Tundra crew cab all fell short in expanded tests conducted by the organization that assesses the impact of accidents on people seated in the rear when vehicles are struck from the side or front. 

IIHS expanded the testing after research found that the risk of fatal injuries in newer vehicles is now greater for people in the second row than for those in the front. The front seat has gotten safer because of improvements in air bag and seat belts, which typically aren’t available in back. 

But restraint systems in the rear are inadequate, according to the institute, a nonprofit organization supported by insurance companies that focuses on curbing injuries and deaths from vehicle crashes. 

The F-150, Ram 1500 and Silverado are rated as poor in protecting rear passengers. IIHS rates the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 crew cab as “acceptable” in keeping back-seat passengers safe. All four trucks provide good protection in the front, the institute found. 

For a vehicle to earn a good rating, crash tests must show there is no excessive risk of injury to the head, neck, chest or thigh of a person seated in the second row, IIHS said. Dummies used in the tests should also remain correctly positioned without sliding forward beneath the lap belt, which raises the risk of abdominal injuries, while the head should remain a safe distance from the front seatback.


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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,” IIHS President David Harkey said Tuesday in a statement announcing the organization’s latest crash-test findings.

“We routinely consider third-party ratings and factor them into our product-development process, as appropriate,” said Eric Mayne, a spokesperson for Ram-maker Stellantis in a statement. “We engineer our vehicles for real-world performance. The protection of our customers is an integral part of the upfront design of a vehicle’s structure. Every Stellantis model meets or exceeds all applicable federal vehicle safety standards.”

Spokespeople for General Motors and Toyota did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A spokesperson for Ford could not immediately be reached.

After surging during the pandemic, traffic fatalities have declined in 2023, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Roughly 19,515 people died in vehicle crashes in the first half of the year, down from 20,190 over the same period last year.



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