ROADS REPORT: Boring is no fun

Wandering out into a parking lot full of colorless cars, it’s a wonder any of us can find our vehicle, even the men

Blog Entry January 09, 2013

David Matthews has been chronicling the unexpectedly humorous side of transportation news for his Roads Report column since 2000. The stories are all true.

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Color me bland
Whether you’re looking for Antelope Fire­mist, Truffle Mica or Bianco Eldorado, there have never been more options for paint colors for your vehicle.

So it came as a surprise that when PPG Industries (an automobile paint manufacturing company) released their list of the most popular new car colors in the U.S. during 2012, the top three were:

1. White (21%);
2. Black (19%); and
3. Silver and Grey (tied at 16%).

With so many options available, why would nearly 75% of us prefer to have no color at all?

PPG believes that our color preferences are often influenced by trends in fashion, interior design or modern electronic gadgets.

Style experts predict that warm, autumn-like tones such as brown and orange will soon be “the new white.” So maybe there’s still hope for Truffle Mica after all.

Making her pay
It’s always nice to be No. 1 at something, but not when it comes to collecting parking tickets.

Thirty-one-year-old Jennifer Fitzgerald in Illinois recently learned that she holds the distinction of accumulating the highest number of parking tickets and the largest amount of fines in the history of Chicago, all on a 1999 Monte Carlo that she didn’t even know she owned.

Fitzgerald said police should be after her bitter ex-boyfriend, Brandon Preveau, who bought the Monte Carlo in 2008 from Fitzgerald’s uncle for $600 and then somehow registered it in Fitzgerald’s name without her knowledge.

A year later, the couple broke up and Preveau took the car so that he could commute to his job at O’Hare Airport. But then in November 2009, Preveau left the vehicle in the airport parking lot and never came back for it.

That same day, Airport Police began issuing parking tickets on the car and continued doing so regularly for nearly three years. When the car was finally towed in October, it had racked up 678 tickets and a $105,761.80 fine for Fitzgerald, a single mom who is currently unemployed.

Fitzgerald is fighting back, arguing that she didn’t commit any of the infractions, isn’t the true owner of the car and on top of that, the city violated its own policy by failing to tow the car after it had been abandoned for 30 days.

And besides, isn’t it punishment enough to find out you own a 1999 Monte Carlo?

Dude, where’s my car?
According to new research, if you have trouble finding your car in a parking lot, you’re probably a woman.

This pronouncement comes from a new Dutch study attempting to shed light on gender differences in the use of spatial memory.

Researchers interviewed shoppers as they were leaving a mall and asked them to describe where they had parked. The study found that women were twice as likely to refer to landmarks, while men were far more likely to think in distances.

Researchers then followed along as the drivers returned to their vehicle to see just how accurate those directions were.

Most drivers found their way back with no trouble, but about 14% veered off course, and most of those were women.

When asked about their specific strategies for remembering where they parked, both men and women usually used at least two methods. The most popular were noticing landmarks (80%), followed by parking close to the mall entrance (62%), retracing their original walking path through the lot (56%), using mental imagery (35%) or parking in a favorite spot (19%).

Surprisingly, only 0.3% used my method of pounding on the panic button on the key fob while roaming around the lot cursing. R&B

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