Trucks, Terrain, Trepidation


The pickup truck and SUV markets in the U.S. increased by 9.9% between 2019 and 2022, let’s just say 10% for the sake for simplicity. More and more people seem to be wanting buy an SUV or a pickup truck and venture out into the wilderness, at least that’s what the commercials are reflecting. No matter what brand we are looking at, commercials show their owners (mostly fairly young) taking their vehicles out where any sign of human civilization cannot be seen. The new owners crave to be In The Middle Of Nowhere, or, ITMON, a new acronym. 

The truck/SUV owners are “exploring” places where the roads aren’t paved, no speed limit signs, traffic signals. There are also no fueling stations, food, water, toilets, emergency services, doctors, nurses or walk-on clinics. Just buy this truck/SUV and get out there in the Great Outdoors, get yourself ITMON. New Hampshire, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Vermont and Oregon have laws that allow rescue services to bill you if you get yourself in a bad situation out ITMON and need to be rescued.  These bills can run up to $5,000 if the rangers have to do a lot to find you, especially in the middle of the night.

I have seen a fair number of younger people buy 4-wheel drive trucks with the specific purpose of using them to tear up the countryside. It seems these young truck owners are in competition to see who can tear up more of the landscape. We can’t be sure if the truck manufacturers condone such behavior, but their commercials certainly don’t discourage it.

From my limited viewing of commercial television, more and more owners of 4-wheel drive SUVs and 4-wheel drive pickup trucks want nothing more than to wander into the great outdoors, far away from civilization. Roads? Who’s worried about roads? This thing is 4-wheel drive!

Having ridden a lot of trail bikes, I have on several occasions had to help a 4-wheel drive out of ditches and creekbeds. Should such a thing happen out ITMON, I wish anyone out there the best of luck. We have a generation of young people who feel as if you cut off their right arm if they can’t make call on their cell phones. When you’re ITMON, it will come as quite a horrifying surprise when you can’t make any calls to anyone or send any pictures of yourselves and your 4-wheel drives from ITMON. Incidentally, I learned a lot about preventative maintenance pushing a lot of trail bikes back home.

My objection, besides tearing up the countryside, is that the manufacturers are encouraging people who haven’t been out ITMON to go ahead and take that dirt road to wherever it may lead them. There may not be a place to turn around, they might be on private property, and they might be on government lands where tearing up the countryside is a violation of property protection laws. In the 1970s, many off-road motorcyclists fought bitter battles with the BLM, or, the Bureau of Land Management. Those motorcycles left far less of an imprint than the gigantic trucks of today. I don’t know the current position of the BLM, but it would not surprise me for the BLM to be quite disturbed about today’s gigantic 4-wheel drive trucks tearing across the countryside, aka federally protected lands. Those same trucks filled with citizens who want to “get away from it all” but still have (of course) cell-phone service and other sophisticated luxuries, such as toilets.

In my youth, (before mobile technology) I hunted in the Powder River basin, in the southeast corner of Montana. It occurred to me that if someone were to be injured or suffer a heart attack, there was no way we could get them to any medical service in time to save them. Similarly, we visited relatives who lived ITMON, and my late father, a heart attack survivor, if he were to have another heart attack while we were ITMON, we were at minimum an hour away from any medical services. I must admit it was a bit unnerving. Yes, there are beautiful places in the vast outdoor countryside of America. There are also places that, while beautiful and isolated, carry with them an inherent risk. So, let the buyer beware, and, as the Boy Scouts say, “be prepared.” Funny, they don’t include that in the commercials.

For a sad example of this check out this article:

Jeffrey Neil Jackson

Jeffrey Neil Jackson is an
Educator & Literary Mercenary

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