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Pickup Truck vs. Car Accident Statistics (2022 Update)

Pick up truck vs Car Accidents

Pickup trucks and car accidents are pretty similar. However, there are some striking safety differences that you need to keep in mind when you’re choosing one vehicle over the other. You may be surprised by the fatality rate differences between these two vehicles.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the statistical differences in accidents between pickup trucks and cars.

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At a Glance

Pickup Truck Accidents
  • Very few pickups qualify for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety top safety picks, which means that they are generally less safe than other options.
  • Research has found that in crashes involving lighter pickups, the driver fatality rate is 23% higher than crashes involving cars of the same weight.
  • Death rates in full-sized pickup trucks are much lower than in light pickup trucks. Based on all these statistics, light pickup trucks seem to be much more dangerous than full-sized versions.
  • Pickup trucks are three times more likely to be involved in a rollover than any other type of car, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This sort of accident is what causes the most fatalities.
  • However, markedly fewer pickup truck passengers wear their seatbelts than passengers in other vehicles. Therefore, the higher fatality rate may be caused by this.
  • Pickup trucks are 224% more likely to kill someone in a crash than other vehicles.
Car Accidents
  • Each year, three million people are injured in the US in car accidents according to the CDC.
  • However, out of all car crashes, only 36,096 are fatal car crashes, which means that at least one person died.
  • Most car fatalities occur in single-vehicle incidents. In other words, a single car hit something inanimate and not another car.
  • Between 5 and 6 million car accidents occur each year, as estimated by the NHTSA.
  • On top of fatalities in cars, about 7,680 pedestrians are involved in fatal car crashes.

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Overview of Pickup Accidents

Toyota Hilux crash
Toyota Hilux crash (Image Credit: Love Krittaya, Wikimedia Commons CC0 1.0)

Generally speaking, pickup trucks are considered to be more dangerous than other vehicles out there. They are involved in more deaths, statistically, than other vehicles. However, this can be deceptive. The fatality rate likely has little to do with how pickup trucks are actually constructed and more about the safety practices of the typical user of a pickup truck.

For instance, pickup truck users are far less likely to wear their seatbelts than those in cars. While seatbelts are typically required in all 50 US states, that doesn’t mean that everyone uses them. Because fatality rates decrease dramatically with the use of seatbelts, lower rates of seatbelts are associated with much higher fatality rates.

Therefore, it is quite likely that the increased fatality rate has to do with fewer people wearing their seatbelts—not the fact that pickup trucks are simply more dangerous.

There are many theories over why seatbelt use is lower in pickup trucks. One is that trucks are more likely to be used in farm work and similar jobs. In these cases, the drivers are likely driving very short distances and getting in and out often. Therefore, they may be more likely to forgo wearing the seatbelt, as they’re just “going down the road.”

In rural areas, families may use trucks for outings but not have enough seats on the inside of the truck. Therefore, they may be more likely to use the bed of the truck. Furthermore, this is also common amongst teens, who may pile in the bed of a friend’s truck after school. Of course, there are no seatbelts in the bed of the truck, so fatalities are much more common.

Many people also drive older trucks, which were built to stand the test of time. However, these trucks often don’t have many safety features (if any), which means that death is also more likely. These trucks may also have older seatbelts that may not work as well as they once did.

However, newer model trucks are different. They often have the same safety features as cars, if not more. In fact, some governments are holding pickup trucks to a higher standard than cars, as they are more likely to cause fatalities.

If you drive an older pickup truck, it is recommended that you consider aftermarket parts to make the car safer when possible.

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Car Accident Overview

car accident
Image Credit: Pixabay

Most car accidents are caused by drunk driving, which makes up a significant amount of accidents. However, distracted driving, speeding, and drowsy driving also cause accidents. Most fatalities are caused by those not wearing their seatbelts—which we also saw in the pickup truck statistics.

Most accidents are caused by user error. It isn’t that the car has a problem and causes a crash. Instead, the driver is the cause. Distracted driving and impaired driving are usually the cause of accidents. Therefore, you can greatly decrease the odds of an accident by only driving when you are completely “there.” Even being drowsy increases the odds of an accident.

Wearing your seatbelt also greatly changes the odds of a fatality during a crash. Therefore, it is likely that most fatalities are caused by not wearing a seatbelt—not necessarily because of the construction of the car. Carelessness goes a long way to increasing fatalities and is likely more of a cause than the exact car you’re driving.

If you follow statistics through the years, you’ll notice that there is not much difference over time in the number of crashes. It seems to stay pretty even—and even increase as cars become more and more common. However, certain types of car crashes have decreased. For instance, those caused by drunk driving have gone down a little bit. However, speed-related fatalities have increased.

Car crashes are currently the leading cause of death in people aged 1–54. Male drivers between the ages of 16–19 are particularly at risk, as they are nearly twice as likely to die in a fatal car crash than females their age. Most deaths occur in younger age groups between 25–34 years old.

Most car accidents occur in rural areas and involve only one car.

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Economic Impact

Both pickup trucks and cars crashes have a huge economic impact on the whole world. While the families are most gravely affected, the ripples spread out beyond that as well. For instance, those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after accidents may be fearful of future car usage.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent on the services revolving around crashes, such as the police officers and first responders involved. Often, medical expenses, damages, and lawsuits can also cause the state and individuals to spend thousands of dollars.

Billions of dollars are lost globally to car crashes each year.

car accident
Image Credit: Pixabay

Are Trucks Safer Than Cars in an Accident?

Statistically speaking, drivers of trucks are more likely to die in a car accident than those in cars. However, this likely has less to do with the actual truck and more to do with the behavior of those who use trucks. Truck drivers are much less likely to not wear their seatbelts.

Rollovers are also more likely to happen in truck accidents, as they are more top-heavy. Rollovers are also far more likely to end in fatalities.

Both of these factors lead to higher fatalities in trucks.

Do Pickup Trucks Cause More Accidents?

Statistically, pickup trucks do not cause more accidents. However, they are more likely to have a fatality in one of these accidents—largely because those who drive trucks are less likely to wear their seatbelt.

Therefore, while these pickup trucks are linked to more fatalities, they are not necessarily linked to more accidents.

However, if you are in an accident, your chance of death is a bit higher than in a car accident.  With that said, your chance likely isn’t much higher if you’re wearing your seatbelt and have a modern truck. Most truck fatalities are caused by not wearing a seatbelt and driving older trucks with few safety features.

Pickup truck
Image credit: Pickup truck by RonaldPlett, Pixabay

How Do Truck Accidents Differ from Car Accidents?

Firstly, trucks are far more likely to tip over than cars. They are top-heavy, which makes them more likely to roll over. Rollovers are much more likely to cause fatalities than other sorts of accidents, which makes trucks a bit more dangerous.

Secondly, people are more likely to exhibit unsafe behaviors when in a truck. People are much less likely to wear a seatbelt, for instance. Trucks are used in farm work often, and those engaged in such work may not wear their seatbelt when driving short distances (only to get in an accident and be expelled from the vehicle).

People are also likely to ride in the bed of the truck, which is extremely dangerous. This reason alone is enough to raise the statistics behind truck fatalities.

Why Are Trucks More Dangerous Than Cars?

It isn’t that trucks are more dangerous than cars. While they are more likely to roll over, this only increases the rate by a small amount.

Instead, truck fatalities are higher than car fatalities because those in trucks practice less safe driving behaviors. For instance, they are more likely to not wear their seatbelt or ride in the bed of the truck, which causes more fatalities.

You can drive a truck safely. Just follow safe driving guidelines.

pickup truck with headache rack
Image Credit: Erik Mclean, Unsplash

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Conclusion

Trucks are notoriously more dangerous than cars. However, this isn’t for obvious reasons. Trucks are not more dangerous by design. Instead, it is just how people drive trucks. For instance, statistics show that passengers are much less likely to wear a seatbelt when in a truck. There are quite a few reasons why this could be.

For one, people ride in the bed of the truck with some frequency. Of course, this is quite dangerous and leads to more fatalities—there are no seatbelts in the bed of a truck.


Featured Image Credit: Left: Pick Up Truck: Kwangmoozaa, Shutterstock | Right: Car: Piotrg255, Pixabay

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