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Watch Out for That Truck!

A change in fuel standards has led to even heavier, more dangerous pickups
relates to Watch Out for That Truck!
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Last July 7 a Nissan Titan pickup truck traveling on a state highway south of Tivoli, Texas, collided head-on with a Honda Civic. All the occupants in both vehicles were wearing seat belts, police said. But the pickup truck, weighing about 5,000 pounds, had physics on its side. The five occupants of the Titan escaped with injuries, but all four occupants of the Civic, which weighs about 2,700 pounds, were killed.

Drivers of passenger cars had nothing in particular to fear from pickup trucks back in 1975, the year Congress passed the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) law, which imposed mandatory mileage requirements on carmakers. Then the two classes of vehicles weighed about the same. As recently as 2000, the weight gap was less than 1,000 pounds. By the 2014 model year, however, the difference had grown to almost 2,000 pounds, according to an October report by the Environmental Protection Agency. The average weight of pickups has risen about 26 percent since 2000 even as the other two types of vehicles classified as light trucks—sport-utility vehicles and minivans—have stayed basically the same weight, the EPA says.