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Pickup trucks cause concern with safety ratings

There are few aspects of a car that strike a nerve quite like its safety features. These elements can set a vehicle apart from its competitors and even save lives in the long run, which makes them extremely important to consider when shopping around for an automobile. 

Safety gets tricky with pickups 
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has made a name for itself by testing how well vehicles can withstand crashes. Testing includes a comprehensive check of how the side, front and roof withstand crashes, among other areas. Unfortunately for many pickup owners, the vehicles were found to have the worst ratings with regard to rollover accidents - but that doesn't have to spell disaster for motorists. The roof strength is just one aspect of truck safety, and there are many things drivers can do to make sure they are taking advantage of each and every safety option. 

Not only is your personal safety affected by the extras included on a truck, but your wallet is as well. According to PickupTrucks.com, full-size models generally cost more to insure than other vehicles, which may prompt some cash-strapped drivers to gravitate toward weaker policies with less coverage.

Top models for safety
When it comes to the vehicles that roll off the production line ready to handle anything, a few stand out above the rest. The IIHS rated three models as Top Safety Picks for 2013, including the Ford F-150, Honda Ridgeline and Toyota Tundra. All three received ratings of "good" across the board in the crash tests, placing them among the safest trucks on the market.  Also receiving solid marks were the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500, which garnered marks ranging from "good" to "acceptable" and "marginal." 

On the plus side, all of the tested models achieved ratings of "good" or "acceptable" when it came to the head restraints and seats. That's positive news for drivers who may be concerned with personal comfort and safety, as the security of the individual could contribute to a better experience when dealing with rough obstacles encountered when off-roading. 

Drivers should keep one important piece of information in mind: Rollover crash test ratings only apply to crew cab models, many of which are two-wheel drive vehicles. This essentially means many pickup trucks on the road are not even tested by the IIHS. Despite this fact, the rollover test is one of the most important for vehicles, and it can make a huge difference to drivers on the pavement or the trails. 

Truck modifications can lead to better safety
Despite the tumultuous nature of safety ratings, there are some things motorists can do to make sure their vehicles are secure, no matter what type of truck mods are being done. Special off-road driving harnesses can be installed to keep the driver and passengers securely in the vehicle when traversing any type of terrain. 

Additionally, you should be taking steps to make sure all of your truck modifications are done properly so as to avoid safety problems. For example, installing a lift kit could affect the steering and handling of an off-road vehicle, and to avoid this, spend time getting used to how the machine drives. If your lift kit leads you to install larger tires on the vehicle, you may also experience uncomfortable or difficult driving. If that is the case, it may also be beneficial to invest in tools like steering stabilizers, which can lead to smoother performance and a safer driving environment for you and your passengers.