Popularity of Pickup Trucks Spreads Beyond Farms

Once upon a time, the humble pickup truck was the vehicle of choice for hard-working, down-home, country-music kind of guys. These days, the pickup, in ever swankier incarnations, is coveted by a far broader audience, from stockbrokers to soccer moms — a trend that has sobering implications for roadway safety and the environment. Big pickups (and these days, they’re getting bigger and bigger) are the most dangerous vehicles on the road for anyone driving anything else, and they use more gas than even the infamously inefficient sport-utility vehicles. Today’s models get an average of just 16.8 miles per gallon, dropping to roughly 10 mpg for the largest models. Pickups currently account for 13.2 percent of new vehicles sold; with Japanese automakers now jockeying to get in on the game, that figure is certain to keep growing.