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Consumer Confidential: Holiday travel, hybrids, teddy bear recall

November 17, 2011 |  9:59 am

Here's your three-times-a-lady Thursday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

-- What's the latest word on the living hell that is Thanksgiving travel? Here you go. About 42.5 million people in the United States are expected to hit the road to visit family and friends, the highest number of holiday travelers since the start of the recession. Travel tracker AAA says that 4% more Americans than last year will journey at least 50 miles from home, with about 90% of them driving. Another 8% plan to fly, but AAA notes that higher airfares and less available seats have forced many would-be fliers to drive instead. The remaining travelers plan to take buses, trains or other forms of transport. Also, those driving should expect to pay more at the pump. The average price of a gallon of gas so far this November is $3.42, up nearly 20% from last year’s $2.86. (Associated Press)

-- For drivers, hybrid vehicles can be a good deal safer than conventional cars. For pedestrians, though, they can be more dangerous because they can sneak right up on you. Occupants of hybrid vehicles sustain fewer injuries in crashes than those who are involved in accidents in non-hybrid cars, according to the Highway Loss Data Institute. The same study says hybrids cause more pedestrian crashes than their non-hybrid counterparts because their relatively quiet operation can make them stealthy on the road. The study suggests the weight of hybrids contributed to a 25% decrease in bodily injuries for those riding in the vehicles. (Los Angeles Times)

-- Heads up: Build-a-Bear Workshop is recalling more than 21,000 swimwear and inner tube sets sold in the U.S. and Canada. The inner tube accessory can be pulled over a small child's head, posing a strangulation hazard. Build-a-Bear received one report of an incident in which a 3-year-old girl pulled the inner tube over her head and had difficulty removing it. The inner tube is part of the three-piece Fruit Tutu Bikini swimwear set for teddy bears, which includes a two-piece fruit-print bikini. The inner tube is nine inches in diameter and pink with white and yellow flowers printed on it. Build-a-Bear Workshop sold the swimwear sets nationwide from April to August for $12.50. They were made in China. (

-- David Lazarus

Photo: There will be more people traveling for Thanksgiving. Enjoy! Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times