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Small pickup trucks offer a seemingly unbeatable combination of utility and fuel-efficiency. For those of us who occasionally have to haul bulky items, small trucks offer capability without the enormous proportions of full-size pickups. Unfortunately, it appears that there may be a trade off: recent tests indicate small pickups might be unsafe in certain types of crashes.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety conducted side-impact crash tests on five models of small pickup trucks. The results of the test were unnerving – four out of the five vehicles received ratings of “marginal” or “poor.” Side-impact collisions have been a problem for automobile manufacturers for years, and even family sedans are susceptible to major damage from such a crash. While the car itself can absorb much of the energy released in a head-on collision, there is far less metal between the occupants and an oncoming vehicle in a side-impact crash.

Because of their higher stance, small trucks are prone to many of the same risks as SUVs. These include the possibilities of rollover, ejection, and large blind spots resulting in so-called “back-over” accidents. While manufacturers continue to work on mitigating these problems with better technology, it is clear they still have a long way to go.

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