COMMENTS: Driving Season

As the Memorial Day kickoff to the summer driving season approaches, ABC looked at costs and CBS looked at safety. Both ABC and NBC ran video clips of the new buckle-up PSA reminding us of seatbelt laws: "I am New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine and I should be dead." Corzine was referring to his own violation as an SUV passenger in a crash that broke a dozen bones. CBS' Nancy Cordes contrasted that "dramatic message" with the rest of the content we see on television: 82% of us "ordinary Americans" routinely use seatbelts compared with 62% of the characters on the 20 most popular TV shows. Cordes cited CBS' The Amazing Race, ABC's The Bachelor and CBS' CSI as beltless offenders. In contrast, siding with Corzine were his fictional citizens: HBO's The Sopranos warns that seatbelts are key to staying alive.

On Tuesday, Dean Reynolds used ABC News poll data to demonstrate that the rising price of gasoline hits harder at low-income households than the upper middle class. ABC's Betsy Stark (subscription required) follows up with the observation that, so far, higher fuel costs have not caused cutbacks in miles driven. The so-called tipping point, where prices at the pump provoke changes in behavior, is predicted at $4.38/gallon, according to ABC's survey. Motorists are more likely to cut back on expenses such as restaurant dining than driving, "things that are a lot easier to change than where you work and where you live."


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