Stan the Statistician <<Last | Next>> | Current Stan | Archive Stan
Work in the media? Struggle with statistics? Stan's irreverent (and often irrelevant) review of the latest media reports, news and gossip may not help at all... Stan the Statistician

Stan # 76: Too many cars March 2004

Passengers at Tornto airport are the most assiduous about washing their hands after visiting the lavatory, a survey has discovered. Only 4% of travellers do not clean their hands after a visit. Worst of the six airports surveyed was New York's John F Kennedy, where only 71% wash their hands. I don't have an original source for this survey, but I would love to know more about the methodology. Usually, people who lurk in toilets are arrested. Does carrying clipboards give immunity?

According to a study commissioned by Barclaycard, the longest a man can be expected to last out shopping is 72 minutes as opposed to the female average of 100 minutes. I'm surprised that the difference is so narrow. I'd have thought 72 seconds for a man and a hundred hours for a woman. In the UK, speed cameras are the bane of every motorist's life. The supermarkets are the gainers as highly qualified plumbers, joiners, decorators and so on are now available to stack shelves having lost their driving licences. The excuse for the installation of these cameras is to reduce road accidents - speed kills they say. However, I always thought that hitting things killed people rather than speed (travelling quickly, that is, not the drug). In fact, the Cleveland Police Force state that excess speed is a factor in only 3% of accidents. So, they haven't installed any cameras. There is now one camera for every 15 people in Britain - speed and 'security'. There are more cameras per head of population here than in any other country in the World. Of course, it is just a revenue raiser and it is easy to measure and collect.

I remember many years ago at British Aerospace (as it is now called), those people who clocked in and out on time received merit bonuses; those who were late arriving or skipped off a couple of minutes early were not. What you did in between these events was not taken into account because clocking in and out could be measured; the amount of work you did could not. So, money was given only for what could be measured.

Recent statistics I have come across show that three times as many children were killed on the roads in 1922 when there was far less traffic and a nationwide speed limit of 20 miles per hour applied. In 1971, 80% of seven and eight year olds got to school unaccompanied by an adult. Now virtually none does.

Britain is filling up with cars. 2.5 million were sold last year - a record. Parking meters are usually spaced 20 feet apart allowing 264 cars to be parked per mile. So four million cars could be parked in a queue 15,000 miles long. Actually, I think I've been in this queue. Four million cars could be parked in a parking lot 45 lanes wide stretching from London to Edinburgh. As far as I know the Government has no plans to build such a parking lot as yet.

Britain has over 20 million vehicles. You do the math from here. The explanation is quite simple - too many people for the land area.

Hall's, a haggis maker, questioned 1,000 US tourists about what they expected from a Scottish holiday. It appears that one third thought that a haggis was a wild animal that roams the Highlands.

A review of laws by officials in a Kentucky town has discovered that it is still compulsory for residents of the State to take a bath at least once a year. Among other laws uncovered in Elizabethtown is a state law that insists: "No female shall appear in a bathing suit on any highway unless she be escorted by at least two officers or unless she be armed with a club."

In England, all taxi drivers are required to carry a bale of hay in the boot and have archery practice once a week. Public urination is allowed provided that you pee against the near side wheel of a vehicle. Until quite recently, it was against the law to buy milk or a Bible on a Sunday but not alcohol or porn.

Check in again at my desk soon!

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