Can my kids ride safely in a new truck?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Jun 01, 1998

Dear Tom and Ray:

I have a brand-new baby and I'm looking for a new car. Trucks are cheap, and
I've always wanted one, like maybe a Ford Ranger. The trouble is, I can't find
any info on kids and trucks. Are they safe? Can you put an infant car seat in
them? Should I forget the idea and go with a car? In other words, would I be
"sporty new '90s-style mom" or "killer mom risking child's life in deathtrap on
wheels"? -- Susan

TOM: Unfortunately, the latter, Susan. Pickup trucks are not safe for little

RAY: The bottom line is that kids, and especially kids in child seats, should
always be in the back seat. There are two reasons for this. One is that there's
no air bag in the back seat that can blow up in an accident and snap the little
kid's neck (and yes, we know that some trucks now have on-off switches for the
passenger air bags -- if you remember to use them).

TOM: But as important, if you're in the back seat, in an accident, you'll hit
... .the front seat! If you're in the front seat, you're closer to the
windshield, the dashboard, the engine compartment and whatever you've crashed
into. So the back seat is intrinsically a safer place than the front seat.

RAY: And since pickup trucks don't have back seats (and the cargo space behind
the seats in "extended cab pickups" doesn't count), they're not really safe
vehicles for kids. So go with a car, Susan. Or at the very least, a truck with a
real back seat, like a Ford Explorer.

* * *

TOM: Hey, do you think you're taking good care of your car? Are you sure?

RAY: If you're like many of our customers, you may be ruining your car without
even knowing it. Yes, even you! Find out how. Send for your copy of our
informative pamphlet, "Ten Ways You May Be Ruining Your Car Without Even Knowing

TOM: Send $3 and a stamped (55 cents), self-addressed No.10 envelope to Ruin
No.1, PO Box 6420, Riverton, NJ 08077-6420.

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