3 Big Pickups Don't Deliver Good Side Protection

Written by Andrew Traub

February 13, 2009

Three large pickup trucks that serve as workhorses for construction crews, farmers and small-business owners are not providing good protection from side crashes, according to tests conducted by the insurance industry which struck the side of the vehicles with a barrier moving at 31 miles per hour to imitate the front end of a pickup truck or sports utility vehicle.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave low marks to the 2009 versions of the Chevrolet Silverado 1500, Dodge Ram 1500, and Nissan Titan in side crash tests.

The Ram, equipped with standard side air bags, earned the second-lowest score of “marginal.”  The Titan and Silverado received the lowest mark of “poor” when tested without optional side air bags.

When the trucks were tested with the optional safety equipment, the Titan’s rating improved to “marginal,” but the Silverado continued to receive a “poor” rating.  The institute said the Silverado’s test results also applied to its twin, the GMC Sierra 1500.

The institute attributed the Silverado’s low ratings to a combination of a poor side structure and a lack of side torso air bags.  The optional side curtain airbags worked well in protecting motorists’ heads, but a person’s upper body would remain unprotected even with the optional side curtain air bags.

According to David Zuby, the institute’s vice president, “The size, weight and height of these large pickups should help them ace the side tests just like the other large pickups we’ve tested.  Not these three.”  Zuby said that occupants of passenger cars typically are more vulnerable in a side crash because their bodies are in line with the fronts of vehicles.  But, he said, trucks faired poorly even with the higher seating positions.

GM spokeswoman Carolyn Markey said the Silverado and Sierra received top scores in the government’s front- and side-impact tests.

If you were injured in a side crash, regardles of the type of car you were driving, be sure to call our office at (512) 343-2572.

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