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To the Editors of American Demographics:

Can you uncover any definitive information on the number of speeding tickets issued annually per state? How many motorists own and use a radar detector, and what are these motorists' demographic profiles? Thank you for your kind consideration of this topic, and keep up the great work!

Grant Dahlke

K40 Electronics

Elgin, Ill.

Dear Grant:

Short of personally calling each and every bureau directly, we were unable to locate any data on the number of speeding tickets issued annually per state. But we were able to find information that you might find interesting regarding how many American drivers nationwide are pulled over for speeding and how many of them are ultimately ticketed.

According to a report released last year by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1 in 10 of the nation's 186.3 million licensed drivers (19.3 million individuals) got pulled over by police in 1999 (the latest year for which data is available). Of those who were stopped, 51 percent (5 percent of all licensed drivers, or 9.9 million individuals) admitted their encounter with the law was due to speeding. Not everyone who is pulled over for speeding winds up making a contribution to City Hall's coffers, but a vast majority do. In fact, 69 percent of drivers who were stopped for speeding in 1999 got a ticket. (The survey does not specifically ask why the drivers got a ticket, only the reason they were pulled over.)

Demographically, men are 41 percent more likely than women to be caught driving too fast: In 1999, 6.2 percent of male drivers were stopped for speeding, compared with 4.4 percent of their female counterparts. When women do get caught breaking the speed limit, they're slightly more likely than men to get away with just a warning. According to the BJS report, 67 percent of women who were pulled over for speeding ended up with a ticket, versus 70 percent of men. Younger drivers are the least lucky when it comes to getting pulled over and getting a ticket: 10 percent of all drivers under 25 were stopped for speeding in 1999, and 74 percent of those were ticketed. Compare those figures with the 5 percent of drivers age 25 and older who were stopped for speeding, 67 percent of whom got a ticket.

To find out who uses a radar detector to avoid the fuzz, we turned to New York City-based Simmons Market Research. According to Simmons, about 6 percent of licensed drivers own or lease a radar detector. Fuzz-busters are most popular among young men: At least 1 in 10 male drivers between the ages of 18 and 24 use a radar detector, as do 8 percent of men ages 25 to 34. Black motorists are also more likely to use the electronic devices for advanced warning of lurking officers: 9 percent say they own or lease a radar detector, versus 6 percent of whites as well as of Hispanics.

Although Bo and Luke Duke, of The Dukes of Hazzard, may not have had the luxury of a radar detector to avoid Sheriff Rosco, their fellow Southerners sure do. Seven percent of drivers in the South today say that they use a radar detector, making them the most likely to use the device. Meanwhile, Westerners are the least likely to use one; only 4 percent of drivers there say they possess a radar detector. But then again, they never had to go one-on-one with the likes of Boss Hogg.


To the Editors of American Demographics:

I was interested to hear that the number of people taking up or returning to knitting has increased dramatically since September 11, 2001. Do you have any statistics that support this, and any details on what type of people — their gender, age group, and socioeconomic level — are picking up the knitting needles and crochet hooks these days?

Laurie A. Sperling

St. Louis, Mo.

Dear Laurie:

While “nesting� experts speculate that the number of knitters has increased since Sept. 11, there is very little data available to verify it. For starters, much of the information that we were able to find came from either the Hobby Industry Association (HIA) or the Craft Yarn Council (CYC) — both of which have a vested interest in the numbers telling a favorable story. According to the HIA, sales of all needlecraft supplies (including yarn, string, knitting needles, etc.) increased to $8.5 billion in 2002, from $7.4 billion in 2001. However, the number of knitters reported by the association remained unchanged during that same period. It would seem, then, that the same number of knitters are working their needles in a frenzy to make a lot of sweaters, scarves and baby blankets.

Meanwhile, the CYC has not released any new figures regarding participation in knitting since 2000, when the organization found that 38 million women nationwide know how to knit or crochet, up from 34.7 million women in 1994. (The council does not distinguish between knitting and crocheting, nor does it report the number of men who are skilled knitters or crocheters.) Of course, just because 38 million American women can knit or crochet doesn't mean that they do.

For that figure we turned to the most solid source of data on the topic that we could find: New York City-based research firm Mediamark Research, Inc. (MRI). According to MRI, participation in all needlecraft hobbies declined from 1999 to 2002 — except for knitting. In 1999, 3,055,000 Americans (1.5 percent of the adult population) said that they had taken up a knitting project in the prior six months; by 2002 that number had risen to 3,353,000 (1.6 percent of the adult population). While an increase of just under 300,000 knitters is not exactly “dramatic,� nevertheless it's quite a respectable figure, considering that during the same period the number of quilters declined by 138,000 and the number of cross-stitchers by 755,000.

What is perhaps even more significant than the fact that, by attracting additional participants in recent years, knitting has bucked the trend is that knitters today tend to be younger, better educated and wealthier than they were in 1999. MRI reports that the average knitter in 2002 was 55.7 years old, while knitters three years before that were 56.8 years old, on average — quite a feat, considering that the population of the United States as a whole is aging. On top of that, 31 percent of all knitters today have either a bachelor's degree or a postgraduate degree, versus just 26 percent who held such a degree just before the turn of the millennium. And with more schooling comes more money: In 2002, the average knitter personally earned $39,756 a year, compared with $31,640 earned by the average knitter in 1999. That $8,100 difference represents a lot more money knitters can spend on yarn!


Males are less likely to take up knitting today, but female participants tend to be younger and to earn more than they did a few years ago.


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