Road Rules

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Check your rearview mirror and you'll see 211 million motor vehicles creeping up on you. In the past 20 years, the number of cars, trucks, and buses dodging potholes on America's roadways has surged 36 percent, according to the Federal Highway Administration. No wonder the Texas Transportation Institute reports that we're spending more time stuck in traffic than ever before. At least some of us are riding (or waiting) in style. Nearly half of all domestic car buyers equip their new wheels with CD players, and 98 percent blast the A/C in the summer, says Ward's Automotive Reports. A keyless entry system that unlocks doors at the touch of a button wasn't even an option in 1980. Now, 51 percent of new domestic cars feature the must-have gizmo. Let's hope they work: a motor-vehicle theft is reported every 23 seconds, according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics.

To live and pay in L.A.

Cities where maintenance costs per year (mid-size car) are highest:

- Los Angeles $8,907

- Philadelphia $8,273

- Detroit $8,225

Lowest:

- Sioux Falls, SD $5,843

- Eau Claire, WI $5,862

- Burlington, VT $5,898

Shockwave speed

Top three car models whose buyers seriously researched the Web before purchasing their car:

- Acura NSX (50% of all buyers)

- Volkswagen Beetle (22%)

- Volkswagen Golf/GTI (19%)

Vehicle whose buyers researched the Web the least:

- Mazda pickup (3% of all buyers)

Crumbs on the keyboard

72% of Jeep Wrangler buyers munch on snacks while surfing the Web

3% of Mercedes-Benz S-class buyers snack while surfing

Keep on truckin'

Number of licensed drivers per registered pickup truck in the United States: 5

Number of licensed drivers per registered SUV: 13

Highest penetration

- Of pickup trucks: Wyoming (one for every two licensed drivers)

- Of SUVs: Colorado (one for every seven drivers)

- Of minivans: Minnesota (one for every ten drivers)

Can you hear me, Herbie?

Percent of Americans who talk to their car: 68%

Top activity of drivers stuck in traffic: talk to themselves 55%

Top activity of Midwesterners stuck in traffic: argue with passengers 58%

Mom, can I have the keys?

Projected number of teens turning 16 in the next decade: 45 million

Percent of 18-to-29-year-olds who favor more frequent driver's license tests for younger drivers: 69%

Percent of 18-to-29-year-olds who favor more frequent driver's license tests for older drivers: 87%

Grab a sponge

Percent of car owners who usually wash their own car: 45%

Percent of car washers who are 60 years and over: 30%

Top region for car washers: South Atlantic (15% market share)

Top region where people usually go to full-service car washes: Pacific (18% market share)

The grill in the rearview

Number of sport utility vehicles registered in 1992: 7.1 million

In 1997: 13.8 million

Percent of SUV owners who think their vehicles are dangerous: 44%

Percent of passenger-car owners who think SUVs are dangerous: 70%

Yellow means go

Percent of all drivers who admit to running a red light, by age

- 18 to 25 75%

- 26 to 35 73%

- 36 to 45 63%

- 46 to 55 56%

- 56 and older 35%

Sources

(1) Runzheimer International

(2) CNW Marketing/Research

(3) U.S. Census Bureau; Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety

(4) CNW Marketing/Research

(5) U.S Census Bureau

(6) Pennzoil-Quaker State Co.

(7) U.S. Census Bureau; Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety

(8) Old Dominion University; Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety

(9) International Carwash Association

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