Over the weekend a Wall Street Journal reporter, some fellow named Dan Neil who seems to think it is his holy duty to tell other people what to do with their money (see his lawsuit against LA Times owner Sam Zell), decided that you driving a large pickup is something that just shouldn’t be done.
FEW MONTHS ago, on an ordinary day in an unremarkable Costco parking lot, I was nearly squashed by an unusually large pickup. Thank God I was wearing a mask.
As that chrome grille closed on me like a man-eating Norelco shaver, time slowed. It seemed I was watching myself from afar, being nimble for a man my age, darting from the path of a towering, limousine-black pickup with temporary plates, whose driver barely checked his pace. Jerk.
What the hell was that thing? A 2020 GMC Sierra HD Denali? It was huge! The domed hood was at forehead level. The paramedics would have had to extract me from the grille with a spray hose, like Randall Jarrell’s ball-turret gunner.
He didn’t even see me.
Later, returning to my car, I noticed something: The parking lot was dotted with similarly enormous luxury pickups—many new, many taking up two spaces: Ram, Ford, Chevy, GMC. They stood out like Percherons in a herd of Shetland ponies.
XL-pickups’ high-rising hoods also create significant blind spots just ahead of the vehicle. I know because apparently I was in one of them. While truck makers like Ford offer automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection systems as standard equipment on most trims, and forward-view cameras as an option, such systems are not mandatory, as they would be in Europe.
And what if the next administration should issue pickup-pedestrian safety rules? Could the extra tall hoods and bluff grilles, the sightlines, the scale, the very form language of the traditional American pickup ever be made pedestrian safe? “Of course not,” said Ms. Marte. “No way.”
So watch yourself at Costco.
In case you’re wondering who the source is, that would be ‘Ms. Marte,’ who opined that pickups can never be made pedestrian safe, she’s an associate professor of design at ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena. This exactly the type of experience I look to when making traffic safety decisions; I’ll bet she was wearing her face mask when she gave the interview.
Dumb begets profoundly stupid as surely as night follows day. This article got the creative juices flowing from someone I’ve never heard of…but they have a blue check on Twitter…who is the “national correspondent” for The Week. The Week is a knee-jerk progressive website where this guy, Ryan Cooper, writes such weighty and thoughtful pieces as Why Trump’s invasion of Portland is textbook fascism and Donald Trump destroyed the economy.
the trend of 6-foot grilles that create massive blind spots and pull people under to be crushed when they are hit is 100 percent a marketing gimmick pic.twitter.com/CdMKuDsL3F
— ryan cooper (@ryanlcooper) August 3, 2020
a light truck can be a useful tool, and I have owned one myself. making the grille 6 feet high so you can't see if you are running over your kid does not make it more useful. it does the opposite
— ryan cooper (@ryanlcooper) August 3, 2020
In a now-deleted tweet, he adds:
I think that’s what gets me the most, some people need trucks, but for others it’s just a luxury status symbol. no farmer needs chrome trim and italian leather seats and shit
This is basically the “no one needs 30 rounds” argument applied to trucks. You, Scooter, don’t get to vote on what I want and what I need. It is none of your business.
And, as an aside, it seems that Cooper is something of a bedwetter so maybe his fear of pickup trucks is just part of his larger phobia of everything:
My man is afraid of everything… 😳 pic.twitter.com/MCNg5jZhgj
— The Pragmatic Ben Orr (@theREALbenORR) August 3, 2020
If I’d known pickups were “designed to kill and intimidate pedestrians,” I would have used mine according to its design purpose. (Full disclosure, I have a Dodge Ram 1500 quad-cab, but before you send me those “nice truck…for a girl” memes, in my defense it has a bull bar–but no bull testicles–and 33-inch tires.) There are buildings in the area where I’d spend at least 8 hours a day driving in circles around, hoping to find a particular class of individual to kill or intimidate.
According to the GAO, pickups are not a major factor in pedestrian fatalities. Relying on data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), this is what the GAO found:
Our analysis of FARS data shows that from 2008through 2018, the number of pedestrian fatalities increased more for crashes involving vehicles that were:
• 11 years old or older (123 percent increase) compared with newer vehicles (9 percent increase);
• SUVs (68 percent increase) compared with other light trucks (25 percent increase), and passenger cars (47 percent increase); and
• traveling at reported speeds 31 mph and above (45 percent increase), compared to vehicles traveling at lower speeds (28 percent
This is the bottom line. If you don’t like a pickup, don’t get a pickup. They are no more dangerous than any other vehicle to other cars, their drivers, pedestrians, or cyclists. The fault both Neil and especially this Cooper guy find with trucks is that they don’t like them…I’m guessing because they really can’t back up all that well that that limits the use…and people they detest do like them. This is basically the same thing as a Karen hazing you in a parking lot for not wearing a mask because they think you really should be wearing one.