What You Need to Know About Driving a Pickup Truck in Alaska

white pickup truck in Alaska forestPickup trucks are a practical option for many drivers across the U.S. They hold up to tough weather, large cargo, and heavy tows. They can be used to transport equipment for your business or just move your friend’s couch across town. Year after year, Americans count on this reliability, and trucks hover near the top of the list of most-purchased vehicles. In Alaska, trucks make up nearly 30 percent of the state market share for vehicles, with Ford’s F-150 atop the list. While trucks are a popular choice among all households, they also come with some specific risks on the road. Simply, trucks are different from sedans and crossovers, and drivers should be aware of the dangers of these vehicles.

How Truck Design Can Affect Safety on the Road

While the design of a truck is what makes it a helpful and popular vehicle choice, the body style can lend itself to some dangers. Some common risks include:

  • Fishtailing. Fishtailing occurs when the rear wheels of a vehicle lose traction, and the back of the vehicle slides to one side. Often, this prompts the driver to overcorrect his steering, which in turn causes the vehicle to then slide too far to the opposite side. This is more likely to occur on wet, snowy, or icy road conditions. Pickup trucks more commonly experience this problem given the lack of weight in an empty rear bed.
  • Lack of structural integrity. When a truck is involved in a crash, they are less able to hold their structure than other types of vehicles. A recent study found that a majority of two-row pickup trucks “struggled to maintain their structure” in crash tests. This lack of structural integrity can result in serious, long-lasting injuries to truck passengers.
  • Lack of crash prevention technology. Historically, pickup trucks lag behind other types of vehicles in providing safety technology. Many trucks lack the collision avoidance, lane-keeping assist, automatic emergency braking, and guided cruise control that is common in other cars. While manufacturers have made strides in recent years to keep pace with other vehicle safety features, there is still progress to be made.

Driver Behavior Also Plays a Role in Pickup Truck Safety

In addition to design, driver behavior can also affect the safety of a pickup truck. Many common behaviors can compromise the safety of drivers, passengers, and others on the road, including:

  • Using lift kits. A lift kit is used to make a vehicle modification that raises the height of a pickup truck. Lifted trucks have a high center of gravity, making them more susceptible to a rollover crash than average trucks. Additionally, their tall structure can inflict more damage to other, smaller cars when involved in a crash.
  • Allowing passengers to ride in the bed. Riding in the bed of a truck is legal in Alaska, but it is not a safe option. The truck bed was designed to transport cargo, not people. There are no safety features to protect passengers in the bed of a pickup.
  • Transporting unsecured cargo. Any cargo that is loaded into the back of a pickup truck should be secured. Higher speeds or sudden maneuvers can cause unsecured cargo to fall out of the truck, striking other vehicles, passengers, cyclists, or pedestrians.

An Experienced Lawyer Can Help After a Pickup Truck Accident in Alaska

It’s important for pickup truck drivers and all who share the road to be mindful of everyone’s safety. Trucks are a fun, practical, and popular vehicle choice, but owners should take care and understand the risks associated with their vehicles. If you or someone you love has suffered injuries in a pickup truck accident, you may be eligible to file a legal claim. Attorney Ben Crittenden has helped many vehicle accident victims understand their rights and obtain the compensation they need to recover as fully as possible after a crash. From his Anchorage office, Ben advocates for victims’ rights all over Alaska. Call his office today or take a moment to fill out the contact form on this page to get in touch directly with Ben. He can answer your questions and schedule a free, no-obligation consultation so you can learn more about your rights and legal options.