Mark Dolliver: Myth Vs. Reality for U.S. Drivers

Automotive advertising that shows cars zooming down traffic-free roads is more likely than ever to embitter people who drive on the nation’s roads in real-life conditions. That’s especially true for drivers in the big metro areas. The 2007 Urban Mobility Report from the Texas Transportation Institute included data on average freeway speeds for drivers in metro areas, and they aren’t very speedy. The Los Angeles/Long Beach/ Santa Ana area had a pathetic average freeway speed of 35 miles per hour, not much faster than the 26 mph average on its secondary roads. Detroit fared best among very large metros, at a zippy freeway average of 48 mph. The average speeds on some other major-metro freeways: 46 mph for Boston and Philadelphia; 43 for Seattle, Washington and Atlanta; 42 for Miami; 41 for New York/Newark; and 39 for Chicago.

Can this planet be saved?

One consequence of the emphasis on global warming has been to leave people convinced the environment in general is a wreck, despite much progress on air and water pollution in the rich countries. An Associated Press/Stanford/Ipsos Public Affairs poll illustrates this tendency. Asked to compare the world’s environment now to that of 10 years ago, just 12 percent of respondents said it’s better (including 3 percent saying “much better”). Fifty-five percent said it’s worse (22 percent “much worse”). The rest said it’s about the same. The chart at lower left shows respondents’ grim forecast for the next 10 years.

Do people partly blame the corporate sector for the sorry state of things? You betcha! In gauging the role of “American businesses” in the past year, 15 percent said they’ve done “a great deal” of harm to the environment and another 19 percent said they’ve done “a lot” of harm, while a lenient 31 percent said they’ve done merely “a moderate amount” of damage.

Moving, licensing, paying, etc.

• When people move to another home, 60 percent use the Internet to research businesses in the new place of residence. Insurers, telecoms and banks are the chief categories for such searches. (Epsilon)

• Thanks to the likes of Spider-Man and Hannah Montana, sales of licensed foods and beverages aimed at 3-11-year-olds have grown steadily and are expected to exceed $1 billion in 2011, vs. $746 million last year. (Packaged Facts)

• Nine percent of homeowners report having trouble paying their mortgages or taxes. The figure hits 12 percent in the Northeast. (International Communications Research)

• Prompted by recent product recalls, 33 percent of consumers said they’re “now looking for more information on the packaging/product when making purchase decisions,” and 18 percent are seeking information on the Internet or elsewhere. (Deloitte & Touche)

• Nearly 2.5 million U.S. adults engaged in online dating in the past 30 days, with men a bit more likely than women to have done so. The phenomenon skews young, with 49 percent of online daters falling into the 18-34 age bracket. (Mediamark Research Inc.)