Pickup Drivers Being Left in the Dark

With all the recent attention on Advanced Driver Assist Systems (ADAS), one basic safety feature – headlights – seems to be coming up short.

headlightsThe Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), in an October 25 report, gave poor ratings to most late-model pickup trucks. Four small pickups were evaluated – and all were available only with headlights that earned a poor rating, IIHS said. Large pickups fared nearly as badly – three of seven large pickups also earned a poor rating. Only one large pickup, the Honda Ridgeline, is available with good-rated headlights, though all but the most expensive trim levels come with poor ones.

Pickups are the third vehicle category to be have headlights evaluated by IIHS. Midsize cars were the first in March, followed by small SUVs in July.

“These latest ratings follow the same disappointing pattern as the other groups,” said Matthew Brumbelow, an IIHS senior research engineer. “As vehicle safety has improved in recent years, this important equipment has been overlooked.”

The GMC Sierra has acceptable-rated headlights available on certain trims, according to IIHS. Other versions earn a marginal or poor rating. The two kinds of headlights available on the Nissan Titan both earn a marginal rating. The Ram 1500 has marginal headlights on certain trim levels, while others have poor ones.

The Ford F-150, the centerpiece of the best-selling F-Series line, is among the poorest performers, IIHS said. Both the base halogen and the optional LED low beams provide inadequate visibility in all test scenarios. The LED lights also produce unacceptable glare.

The Chevrolet Colorado is equipped with the worst-visibility headlights, IIHS said. The halogen reflector low beams on the pickup’s base trim illuminate to only 123 feet on the right side of the straightaway. In contrast, the Ridgeline LED low beams illuminate to 358 feet.

IIHS is incorporating headlights into the criteria for its highest award, “Top Safety Pick+.” To qualify for the 2017 award, vehicles will need good or acceptable headlights.

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