AUSTIN, Texas – Reed Goodman compares a potential wreck in his muscular 2500 Dodge Ram pickup to a brawl, saying “a bigger guy is gonna come out on top.”

The Austin high school junior believes his diesel truck, with 33-inch tires, is a safe vehicle for him and others on the road.

But a recent University of Texas study puts the skids on that assumption, indicating that teenagers and pickup trucks are a dangerous combination.

The study, written by an engineering professor and two students, used traffic data from roughly 7,000 crashes nationwide from 2005 to 2007.

It found that teenagers driving pickups are twice as likely to be severely injured in a crash as those driving other types of vehicles, including sport utility vehicles.

The explanation is multifaceted, experts said.

For one, the study found that teenage drivers, in general, are more accident-prone and inclined to drive aggressively. Also, auto and insurance experts say, pickups typically increase aggressive driving behaviors.

Put the two factors together, and you’ve got trouble.

On top of that, pickups generally don’t fare as well as other vehicles in crash tests, have a high rollover frequency and are more difficult to control and correct, translating into more severe injuries when accidents do happen.

The study’s author, Chandra Bhat, said his work ought to make parents think twice before putting their kids in pickups.

“The sensation-seeking, risk-seeking, adventure-seeking behaviors enhance when pickups are in the hands of teenagers, which leads to more aggressive driving,” he said.

The advice runs counter to what many believe in a state where nearly one in four registered drivers owns a pickup.

Isaul Salinas, a Dallas high school senior, said he feels safe in his 2005 GMC Sierra.

“It’s more of a protection thing,” said Salinas, 17. “The big car usually wins.”

Asked why he chose to drive a pickup over any other type of vehicle, he said, “It feels more manly, more masculine.”

Goodman, 17, admits he and his friends enjoy perhaps too much the freedom and power that comes with a driver’s license.

“I guess guys can kind of be more careless,” he said. “They beat their chest up and try to prove they are good drivers by doing 85 around a corner.”

Young drivers account for 6.5 percent of the driving population but are responsible for about 13 percent of fatal crashes, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.