Now, where'D i put the keys?

How many times have you heard of "America's love affair with the automobile"? Well, it's true, at least if you also count SUVs and pickup trucks. According to the US Transportation Department, in a new report, the average household - for the first time - has more motor vehicles than drivers. The ratio: 1.9 to 1.8. The report, on a survey taken among 26,000 households, covered 2001 and 2002. Eight percent of households reported owning no vehicles, but it's possible some of them have motorized two-wheel scooters.

Let's see it buy its own gas

Speaking of such matters, Toyota has just made available what's believed to be the world's first car that parks itself. With company president Fujio Cho demonstrating for the news media in Tokyo, a hybrid gas-electric Prius sedan squeezed into a parallel parking slot, using electrically operated power steering and sensors to guide the way. The option costs $1,972 on top of the retail price for the model: $18,430. So intent was Cho on keeping his hands off the wheel for the cameras that, oops, he forgot to set the parking brake.

Best country for children? It's Belgium, report says

Belgium is the world's most child-friendly country, according to Population Connection. In fact, Europe took seven of the top spots in the Washington-based advocacy group's ranking of 77 nations. It evaluated such criteria as projected population change by 2050; contraceptive use; fertility rates; maternal, child, and infant mortality rates; school enrollment; and access to safe drinking water and sewage facilities. The 10 nation's that scored highest on the group's report card:

1. Belgium
2. Netherlands
3. Australia
4. France
5. Britain
6. Portugal
7. US
8. Spain
9. South Korea
10. Italy

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