Posts Tagged ‘AAA’

Michael Green

Longest Consecutive Streak to End with Drivers Saving at Least $250 Million per Day on Gasoline

WASHINGTON (Oct. 31, 2014) – The national average price of gas tomorrow will drop below $3.00 per gallon for the first time since Dec. 22, 2010, ending its longest streak ever above that price, according to AAA. AAA estimates that lower gas prices are helping consumers save at least $250 million per day on gasoline compared to early summer when the national average reached $3.68 per gallon.

“Consumers are experiencing ‘sticker delight’ as gas prices unexpectedly drop below $3.00 in much of the country,” said Bob Darbelnet, CEO of AAA. “Lower gas prices are a boon to the economy just in time for holiday travel and shopping.”

The national average price of gas has remained more expensive than $3.00 per gallon for 1,409 consecutive days. During that 46-month period, gas prices averaged $3.52 per gallon and reached as high as $3.98 per gallon on May 5, 2011.

More than 60 percent of all U.S. stations are selling gas for less than $3.00 per gallon today. Consumers can find at least one station selling gas for less than $3.00 per gallon in nearly every state. The drop below $3.00 per gallon is significant because about 40 percent of American adults believe that gasoline is “too high” when the price reaches that level, according to a AAA survey conducted in March.

“The steep decline in gas prices has helped to make driving less expensive for the vast majority of Americans who use their car every day,” continued Darbelnet. “Many Americans are spending $10-$20 less to fill up the cars on every trip to the gas station compared to what they paid during the summer driving season.”

AAA anticipates gasoline prices may continue to drop in the near term, but it is possible that prices in many areas will begin to stabilize soon. Unless there are unexpected developments, gasoline should remain relatively inexpensive this winter due to lower demand and typical seasonal trends. By spring, higher gas prices may return due to refinery maintenance, increased demand and a return to summer-blend gasoline.

“Paying less than $3.00 for gas is a welcome holiday gift that may not last nearly as long as many would hope,” continued Darbelnet. “It is possible that lower gas prices will soon be a faded memory, so enjoy it while you can. The days of paying more than $3.00 per gallon for gas have regrettably not gone away.”

Gas prices typically decline in the autumn due to decreased driving and the switchover to winter-blend gasoline, but prices have fallen faster than many expected this year due to sharply lower crude oil prices. The price of West Texas Intermediate crude oil has dropped more than $20 per barrel since late June due to strong production and concerns about the global economy, particularly in Europe and Asia. There also are reports that some OPEC nations, such as Saudi Arabia, would be willing to let prices fall to maintain a competitive market share.

Crude oil is the main cost associated with gasoline and represents about two-thirds of the price of a gallon of gas. It is estimated that every ten dollar per barrel change in the price of crude oil results in a 25-cent change in the price of a gallon of gasoline.

The least expensive prices primarily are in the Southeast and Central United States, which are regions that generally have lower gas taxes and have access to major refineries processing cheaper domestic crude oil. The most expensive prices are generally on the West Coast and in the Northeastern United States, yet even these regions are experiencing lower prices than recent years. Average state prices can be found on AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Gasoline Closes in on $3 per Gallon

October 27th, 2014 by admin

Michael Green Contact Tile(WASHINGTON, October 27, 2014) The national average price for regular unleaded gasoline is $3.04 per gallon, the lowest mark since December 27, 2010. Today’s price is six cents less than one week ago and twenty-five cents less than one year ago. The national average has now dropped for 32 consecutive days for a total of 30 cents per gallon.

Gas prices typically decline this time of year, but have fallen more swiftly than typical due to the sharply declining price of crude oil. The cost of crude oil accounts for approximately two-thirds of the price consumers pay for gasoline, which means, barring any other factors, gas prices continue to fall as long as crude oil prices decline. Today’s national average price of gas represents an 18 percent savings compared to the 2014 high of $3.70 per gallon, which was reached on April 28.

National Average Gas Price Comparison 2011-2014

Seventeen states currently register an average gas price below $3.00 per gallon with drivers in South Carolina ($2.79), Tennessee ($2.79) and Mississippi ($2.80) paying the nation’s lowest average prices at the pump. Hawaii remains the nation’s most expensive market for retail gasoline with an average above $4.00 per gallon ($4.05) followed by Alaska ($3.77), New York ($3.41) and California ($3.39).

Week-over-week, average prices are down in 40 states and Washington, D.C. with the steepest drops in the Pacific Northwest: Oregon (-15 cents) and Washington (-13 cents). The average price for retail gasoline has ticked upward in 10 states with the price up a nickel or more compared to one week ago in six states. Drivers in Minnesota (+16 cents) and Oklahoma (+12 cents) in particular have seen prices jump over the past week due to tighter supplies even as the national average has ticked lower. While retail gasoline in these states is less expensive than both a month and year ago, pump prices could continue to buck the national trend until additional gasoline reaches those markets in early November.

Top Ten Most Expensive Average Gas Prices

Drivers in every state and Washington, D.C. continue to enjoy month-over-month and year-over-year savings at the pump. Compared to this same date last month, state averages are down by a quarter or more in 35 states. Oregon (-48 cents), Washington  (-47 cents) and Delaware (-40 cents) are registering the largest discounts over this period, but drivers in every state and Washington, D.C. are saving more than a dime per gallon. Year-over-year, the average price at the pump is down by a dime or more in 46 states and Washington, D.C., led by Delaware (-39 cents), Tennessee (-36 cents) and Alabama (-36 cents). Eighteen states are reflecting prices discounted by a quarter or more in comparison to this same date last year.

Top Ten Largest Monthly Savings in Gas Prices

Continuing unrest in Iraq and geopolitical tensions in Eastern Europe have taken a backseat to an emerging belief by many market watchers that global supply – including significantly higher oil production in the United States – is outpacing global demand growth. This assessment has helped sink West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil prices to near $80 per barrel for the first time since June 2012 and has fueled speculation of how the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) will respond to the falling price of crude. OPEC is scheduled to convene on November 27 in Vienna to discuss global demand and the impact of increased production by non-OPEC countries. At the close of formal trading on Friday, WTI was down $1.08 at $81.01 per barrel on the NYMEX, and prices have fallen below $80 in morning trading today.

AAA urges motorists to Take Two for safety

October 27th, 2014 by admin

Heather HunterSimple tire checks can improve winter driving.

ORLANDO, Fla., (October 27, 2014) – Worn tires can send a car into dangerous skids and spins on wet and icy winter roads. Checking tire pressure and tread depth monthly can help motorists keep tires in optimal condition, according to AAA.

Additional Materials

“The two most important tire safety checks – a pressure reading and tread depth measurement – are very simple to do,” according to Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering. “If motorists spend about two minutes on each tire, they will keep their tires at peak performance.”

Monthly tire checks take two steps:

  • Measure tread depth with a quarter rather than a penny. When the top of Washington’s head is exposed, the tread depth is 4/32″ or less and it’s time to start shopping for new tires.
  • Use a quality gauge to check tire pressure. For proper results, make sure tires are cold. Look for the recommended air pressure in the vehicle’s owner’s manual the tire information decal located inside the driver’s side door or in the glove compartment. The number molded into the tire sidewall is not recommended for normal operating condition; this specification is for a tire that is carrying its maximum rated payload.

“Worn tires should be replaced immediately because they significantly impact safety,” says Brannon. “Testing has shown that tires with only half of their tread depth can take up 6 feet longer to stop from 40 miles-per-hour on a wet surface, even with the antilock braking system engaged.”

Additional information regarding AAA’s recommendations for proper vehicle maintenance is available on the AAA Newsroom and AAA’s YouTube channel. AAA’s network of more than 7,000 Approved Auto Repair providers is listed on AAA.com.  AAA members can receive a free maintenance inspection anytime they have work performed at any of these locations.

AAA continually conducts proprietary research to better understand consumer implications of automotive technology, design and functionality.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Tests Show Rear View Cameras Can Save Lives

October 27th, 2014 by admin

GenericPublicAffairsAAA’s Evaluations Found an Average 46 Percent Improvement in Blind-Zone Visibility

ORLANDO, Fla., (October 27, 2014) – Rear-view camera systems improved rear visibility an average of 46 percent in AAA’s tests. These systems are intended to improve driver awareness of the area immediately behind the vehicle in order to reduce the instance of back-over fatalities. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration requires a rear-view image in all passenger vehicles beginning in 2016, with full compliance by May 2018.

  • AAA evaluated 17 vehicles across 11 manufacturers with factory-installed and aftermarket rear-view camera systems on a variety of vehicle body styles.
    • The increased visibility ranged from a 36 percent improvement in smaller sedans to a 75 percent improvement in hatchbacks. Large trucks and sport utility vehicles scored in the mid-range of vehicles evaluated.

Additional Resources

“Rear-view cameras are a great supplement for drivers,” says John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering. “Cameras don’t replace the need to check around your vehicle for obstacles before getting in to back up, but they do dramatically improve rear visibility. These systems are especially helpful for viewing the first 10 feet behind the vehicle, which are the most hazardous in terms of back-over risk for young children.”

AAA evaluated 17 vehicles across 11 manufacturers with factory-installed and aftermarket rear-view camera systems, testing a variety of vehicle body styles to measure the reduction in blind-zone areas as a direct result of using a rear-view camera system. AAA’s research – conducted with the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center – found that:

      • A rear-view camera system increased visibility of the rear blind-zone area by an average of 46 percent for the vehicles tested. This ranged from a 36 percent improvement in smaller sedans to a 75 percent improvement in hatchbacks.
      • Although these systems dramatically improve rear-view visibility, they do not show 100 percent of the space behind the vehicle. AAA recommends drivers always walk behind their vehicle to visually confirm that there are no obstacles, and use the rear-view camera to confirm that nothing has entered the area immediately behind the vehicle since the driver’s walk-through inspection.
      • Rain, snow or slush can cloud the rear-view camera lens, delivering blurry imagery. Motorists will need to resort to manual methods of confirming that the rear blind zone is clear during inclement weather. Wiping the camera during the pre-drive inspection is a good habit that ensures the camera is ready to capture a clear image.
      • All of the systems tested met – and many exceeded – the minimum specifications for image quality per the NHTSA guideline.

“As Halloween approaches, we know that neighborhoods will be filled with small trick-or-treaters that could easily be missed when the driver turns his head to look behind the vehicle,” says Nielsen. “When used appropriately, a rear-view camera offers a bright, clear view directly behind the vehicle where small children are most difficult to see.”

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety also has provided an assessment of back-up cameras, along with six other advanced technologies, in the August 2014 report Evaluating Technologies Relevant to the Enhancement of Driver Safety. Conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab, the study details a data-driven system for rating the effectiveness of new in-vehicle technologies intended to improve driver safety.  Motorists can review the AAA Foundation’s rating for new in-vehicle technologies, along with extensive informational material, at https://www.aaafoundation.org/ratings-vehicle-safety-technology.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

AAA conducts proprietary research to better understand implications of automotive technology, design and functionality for consumers. Additional information regarding AAA’s research on rear-view camera systems is available on the AAA Newsroom.

 

Established by AAA in 1947, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit, publicly-supported charitable educational and research organization. Dedicated to saving lives and reducing injuries on our roads, the Foundation’s mission is to prevent crashes and save lives through research and education about traffic safety. The Foundation has funded over 200 research projects designed to discover the causes of traffic crashes, prevent them, and minimize injuries when they do occur.  Visit www.aaafoundation.org for more information on this and other research.

Price Of Gasoline Reaches New 44-Month Low

October 20th, 2014 by admin

Michael Green Contact Tile(WASHINGTON, October 20, 2014) With oil prices sharply lower over the last several weeks, the national average pump price has followed suit and has now dropped on 25 consecutive days. This tumble has sent the national average to a low not seen since early 2011 and increased the likelihood that the national price at the pump could test the $3.00 per gallon mark for the first time since 2010.

Today’s national average price for regular unleaded gasoline is $3.10 per gallon, representing the lowest price since February 1, 2011. The national average has fallen by a dime since one week ago and is 25 cents less than both one month and one year ago. This year-over-year gap has reached its widest mark since March.

Drivers are savings an average of 60 cents per gallon compared to the 2014 high of $3.70 (April 28), and pump prices have tumbled 10 percent since Labor Day when the national average registered $3.44 per gallon. For every penny that the national average falls (were the lower price sustained over the course of a year) more than one billion dollars per year in additional consumer spending is estimated to be freed up.

Avg-Gas-Prices-2011-2014-01

Motorists in 17 states now pay an average price below $3.00 per gallon. The nation’s 10 most expensive markets are composed primarily of states on the West Coast and in the Northeast led by: Hawaii ($4.08), Alaska ($3.80), California ($3.50) and New York ($3.45). On the other end of the spectrum, consumers in Missouri are paying $2.77 per gallon for regular unleaded gasoline, a low unseen in the state since 2010.

Compared to one week ago, the average price at the pump is down in 48 states and Washington, D.C. Motorists in 23 states and Washington, D.C. are saving a dime or more per gallon week-over-week with the largest discounts in Kentucky (-17 cents), Indiana (-16 cents) and Georgia (-14 cents). There are two states where the price has ticked upward over this same period: Ohio (+3 cents) and Michigan (fractions of a penny).

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The average price paid by drivers to refuel their vehicles is down in every state and Washington, D.C. both month-over-month and year-over-year. In comparison to this same date last month, consumers in every state and Washington, D.C. are saving 15 cents per gallon or more at the pump, and of this total there are 24 states where the price has fallen by a quarter or more per gallon. The Western states of Washington and Oregon (both down 40 cents) are registering the largest discounts over this period, followed by Kentucky and Colorado (down 39 cents). Year-over-year, 47 states and Washington D.C. are saving a dime or more per gallon at the pump and 25 states are registering discounts of a quarter or more led by Kentucky (-42 cents), Indiana (-40 cents) and Delaware (-36 cents).

Top10-Weekly-Savings-10-20-01

Geopolitical tensions in Iraq continue to be viewed by market watchers as posing a minimal threat to the region’s oil production. Sentiment for crude oil prices has remained bearish and it is speculated that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) will continue to protect its market share by sustaining current levels of production rather than cutting output to increase the global price of oil. OPEC member countries are responsible for 40 percent of the world’s oil production and are scheduled to convene on November 27 in Vienna to discuss whether to sustain or reduce production. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) closed out last week by settling up a nickel at $82.75 per barrel at the close of formal trading on the NYMEX. WTI was trading slightly lower to open the day today.

Michael Green Contact Tile

AAA Foundation Research Suggests States Could Reduce Crashes by Extending GDL Requirements

WASHINGTON (Oct. 20, 2014) – Experience behind the wheel may matter more than age when it comes to the safety of young-adult drivers, according to two new studies by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. These results suggest that states could reduce road crashes, fatalities and injuries by extending graduated driver licensing (GDL) laws to novice drivers beyond age 17. AAA is promoting this research as part of National Teen Driver Safety Week, which takes place from Oct. 19-25.

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Graduated driver licensing laws are designed to help new drivers gain practical experience in a relatively safe environment by initially restricting their exposure to risky situations, such as driving at night or with young passengers. The law then gradually phases in more privileges as new drivers gain more experience.

“Turning 18 does not instantly make someone a safer driver,” said Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “This new research clearly demonstrates how important experience is to safe driving and suggests that graduated driver licensing laws may be beneficial for people that begin driving at an older age.”

The findings are based on two studies that examined crash rates of new drivers. The first study looked at crash rates in both California and North Carolina, which are two states that allow driving at age 16 and have no GDL requirements for new drivers ages 18 or older. While new drivers licensed at older ages tended to be less likely to crash during their first months and years of driving than younger beginners, the research revealed an important exception: new drivers licensed at age 18 were more likely to be involved in a crash resulting in injuries during their first year of solo driving than new drivers licensed at any other age.

The second study examined crash rates in New Jersey, which has a minimum age of 17 for unsupervised driving and is the only state in the country to have a comprehensive GDL program for all new drivers up to age 21. In New Jersey, while crash rates of new drivers licensed at different ages largely converged after six months of solo driving experience, older beginners had lower crash rates overall and lower rates of injury crashes than younger beginners.

Although the data did not allow researchers to directly investigate whether these differences were caused by GDL provisions, collectively, the results of the two studies suggest that applying GDL to all new drivers, or at least to some new drivers older than 17, might have a protective effect and improve safety.

“Graduated driver licensing can greatly reduce crashes, injuries and deaths for everyone on the road,” said Jennifer Ryan, AAA director of state relations. “These laws set the parameters to help ease the transition behind the wheel during the learning to drive process.”

Graduated driver licensing programs have reduced 16- and 17-year-old driver crashes, but generally do not apply to new drivers ages 18 and older. Prior AAA Foundation research found that an estimated 36 percent of new drivers miss out on the protections of GDL by delaying licensure until age 18 or older. AAA is not calling for states to extend GDL provisions just yet, but does believe the research results are very promising in terms of pinpointing a way to keep these drivers safe. The AAA Foundation is planning to dive deeper into this area of research in the coming year.

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teenagers, and drivers ages 18-20 were involved in more than 800,000 crashes in the United States in 2012. Parents and teens can learn more about teen driver issues and GDL requirements in their state by visiting AAA’s Keys2Drive website.

Established by AAA in 1947, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, publicly-supported charitable educational and research organization. Dedicated to saving lives and reducing injuries on our roads, the Foundation’s mission is to prevent crashes and save lives through research and education about traffic safety. The Foundation has funded over 200 research projects designed to discover the causes of traffic crashes, prevent them and minimize injuries when they do occur. Visit www.aaafoundation.org for more information on this and other research.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Heather HunterAAA suggests motorists mark November 2 for key winter car care checks

ORLANDO, Fla., (October 20, 2014) – Consumers have leveraged the changing of the clocks to remember important but infrequent tasks like replacing smoke alarm batteries. AAA suggests motorists also use this event as a reminder to check their vehicle for winter readiness.

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“The end of daylight savings time means that winter weather is on the way, which can be rough on your car,” says AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering, Greg Brannon. “This is a good time to have vehicle systems checked and perform important maintenance to ensure your car is in peak condition.”

Harsh winter conditions make your vehicle work harder, particularly the charging and starting system, headlights, tires and windshield wipers. AAA recommends that motorists:

  • Clean any corrosion from battery posts and cable connections and wash all surfaces with battery terminal cleaner or a solution of baking soda and water. Have the battery checked by a professional to ensure it is strong enough to face cold weather.
  • Have any engine drivability problems corrected at a good repair shop. Symptoms like hard starts, rough idling, stalling or diminished power could signal a problem that would be exacerbated by cold weather.
  • Replace worn windshield-wiper blades. If your climate is harsh, purchase one-piece beam-type or rubber-clad “winter” blades to fight snow and ice build-up. Use cold-weather windshield washer solvent and carry an ice-scraper.
  • Inspect all lights and bulbs and replace burned out bulbs. Clean road grime or clouding from all lenses.
  • Have your mechanic check the exhaust system for leaks and look for any holes in the trunk and floorboards.
  • Examine tires for tread depth, uneven wearing and cupping. Check tire pressures once a month when tires are cold, before driving for any distance. In extreme climates, a set of winter snow tires may be a wise investment.

Additional information regarding AAA’s recommendations for proper vehicle maintenance is available on the AAA Newsroom and AAA’s YouTube channel. AAA’s network of more than 7,000 Approved Auto Repair providers is listed on AAA.com.  AAA members can receive a free maintenance inspection anytime they have work performed at any of these locations.

AAA continually conducts proprietary research to better understand consumer implications of automotive technology, design and functionality.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Heather Hunter

 

 

 

 

 

  • Service intervals for oil changes, brake, transmission and power steering fluids and coolant have increased with advances in technology.
  • Monthly safety checks are critical for detecting issues that could lead to a hazardous situation or major repair.

Additional Materials

ORLANDO, Fla., (October 14, 2014) – New fluid technologies and engine designs have combined to reduce the burden of properly maintaining today’s vehicles. Fewer trips to the repair facility, however, may put motorists at risk of missing clues that could head off safety issues or expensive repairs.

“Every vehicle has a unique maintenance schedule, but many automakers are extending service intervals for vehicle fluids,” says John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “Less maintenance improves the cost of vehicle ownership, but fewer visits to the repair facility means the technician will have fewer opportunities to check your vehicle for signs of wear. It’s important for motorists to conduct monthly safety inspections to identify issues before they escalate.”

Examples of new fluid service intervals include:

  • Oil: Cars today are designed to travel at least 5,000 miles between oil changes, and many newer models can be driven up to 7,500 miles or more before an oil change is necessary. Some vehicles that use full-synthetic engine oils have service intervals approaching 15,000 miles.  Be sure to check your oil level, either under the hood or through the vehicle’s onboard computer system.
  • Coolant: Requirements for flushing the coolant can vary from every two years to more than 100,000 miles, depending on the coolant type used. However, be sure coolant levels are correct as leaks in the system could cause major issues.
  • Brake fluid:  Most vehicle manufacturers recommend that brake fluid be replaced periodically to flush moisture and contaminants from the system. Check your vehicle owner’s manual for specific recommendations. If not specified, AAA recommends flushing the brake system and replacing with new fluid every two years.
  • Transmission fluid: Modern automatic transmissions are increasingly being filled with “lifetime” fluids that do not need to be changed until the vehicle has traveled 100,000 miles or more. The owner’s manual or maintenance booklet is the definitive source for specific transmission fluid requirements.

A monthly, 10-minute vehicle inspection can highlight issues that need attention. Motorists should check the level of the engine oil, brake fluid, engine coolant, washer fluid and power steering fluid.  In addition, a check of the tire pressure and tread depth will help ensure safety on the road.

Additional information regarding AAA’s recommendations for proper vehicle maintenance is available on the AAA Newsroom and AAA’s YouTube channel. AAA’s network of more than 7,000 Approved Auto Repair providers is listed on AAA.com. AAA members can receive a free maintenance inspection anytime they have work performed at any of these locations.

AAA continually conducts proprietary research to better understand consumer implications of automotive technology, design and functionality.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Gas Prices Fall Nine Cents in One Week

October 13th, 2014 by admin

Michael Green Contact Tile(WASHINGTON, October 13, 2014) The national average price for regular unleaded gasoline has fallen for 18 straight days, reaching today’s price of $3.20 per gallon. This price represents a new 2014 low and is the lowest average for the Columbus Day holiday since 2010 when gas averaged $2.81 per gallon. Today’s average price is nine cents less than one week ago, 20 cents less than one month ago and 15 cents less than one year ago.

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Drivers in six states are paying an average price below three dollars per gallon to refuel their vehicles with eight additional states posting prices within a nickel of this mark. Motorists in Missouri saw the average price fall below the $3.00 threshold this past Tuesday, and for the second week in a row are paying the nation’s lowest average price per gallon ($2.90).  Although the average price in Hawaii has fallen by four cents over the past seven days, it continues to lead the market with an average retail price above $4.00 per gallon ($4.13). Californians still pay the highest average ($3.60) in the continental U.S. followed by New Yorkers and Oregonians who are both paying $3.52 per gallon.

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The average price is down in every state and Washington, D.C. in both week-over-week and month-over-month comparisons. Week-over-week the retail price has dropped by a dime or more in 13 states with drivers in the Midwestern states of Minnesota (-16 cents), Michigan (-15 cents) and Kentucky (-14 cents) saving the most per gallon. Motorists in 46 states and Washington, D.C. are saving a nickel or more over this same period.  Even larger drops in the price at the pump are reflected over the past month. Michigan (-40 cents), Delaware (-35 cents), Washington (-33 cents) and Oregon (-32 cents) are registering the largest discounts in price over this period, followed by 10 other states where the average price is down by a quarter or more. State averages have fallen by a dime or more in every state but Florida, where prices have fallen only nine cents.

Year-over-year the average price for retail gas is lower in every state but Alaska (where prices are up less than a penny), and consumers in 48 states and Washington, D.C. are saving a nickel or more per gallon. The price has dropped by a dime or more in 38 states with consumers in Michigan (-30 cents), Minnesota (-30), Ohio (-27 cents) and Delaware (-25) saving a quarter or more per gallon to refuel their vehicles.

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Low demand combined with abundant supply has kept downward pressure on global oil prices. The impact of falling prices is currently front of mind for many in the market, and attention is now focused on whether the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) will alter production in order to influence prices higher. OPEC members are scheduled to meet at the end of November and will reportedly not hold an emergency meeting before then based on current prices, which has supported the bearish sentiment for crude oil. Additionally, while violence continues in Iraq, market watchers still assess the threat to oil production to be relatively limited. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil settled eight cents lower at $85.74 per barrel at the close of formal trading on the NYMEX. This is fifth consecutive settlement below $90 per barrel and the lowest price since December 2012.

Nancy WhiteAAA Urges Manufacturers to Focus on Accuracy and Usability to Reduce Cognitive Distraction

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Oct. 7, 2014) – With three out of four drivers believing that hands-free technology is safe to use, Americans may be surprised to learn that these popular new vehicle features may actually increase mental distraction, according to new research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. This research can serve as guidance to manufacturers who increasingly market hands-free systems as safety features. The good news for consumers is that it is possible to design hands-free technologies that are less cognitively distracting, according to the research.

Additional Resources

The results, which build on the first phase of the Foundation’s research conducted last year, suggest that developers can improve the safety of their products by making them less complicated, more accurate and generally easier to use – a point AAA hopes to use in working with manufacturers to make hands-free technologies as safe as possible for consumers. While manufacturers continue their efforts to develop and refine systems that reduce distractions, AAA encourages drivers to minimize cognitive distraction by limiting the use of most voice-based technologies.

“We already know that drivers can miss stop signs, pedestrians and other cars while using voice technologies because their minds are not fully focused on the road ahead,” said Bob Darbelnet, chief executive officer of AAA. “We now understand that current shortcomings in these products, intended as safety features, may unintentionally cause greater levels of cognitive distraction.”

Using instrumented test vehicles, heart-rate monitors and other equipment designed to measure reaction times, Dr. David Strayer and researchers from the University of Utah evaluated and ranked common voice-activated interactions based on the level of cognitive distraction generated. The team used a five-category rating system, which they created in 2013, similar to that used for hurricanes. The results show:

      • The accuracy of voice recognition software significantly influences the rate of distraction. Systems with low accuracy and reliability generated a high level (category 3) of distraction.
      • Composing text messages and emails using in-vehicle technologies (category 3) was more distracting than using these systems to listen to messages (category 2).
      • The quality of the systems’ voice had no impact on distraction levels – listening to a natural or synthetic voice both rated as a category 2 level of distraction.

The study also separately assessed Apple’s Siri (version iOS 7) using insight obtained from Apple about Siri’s functionality at the time the research was conducted.  Researchers used the same metrics to measure a broader range of tasks including using social media, sending texts and updating calendars. The research uncovered that hands- and eyes-free use of Apple’s Siri generated a relatively high category 4 level of mental distraction.  

To put all of this year’s findings in context, last year’s research revealed that listening to the radio rated as a category 1 distraction; talking on a hand-held or hands-free cell phone resulted in a category 2 distraction; and using an error-free speech-to-text system to listen to and compose emails or texts was a category 3 distraction.

“Technologies used in the car that rely on voice communications may have unintended consequences that adversely affect road safety,” said Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “The level of distraction and the impact on safety can vary tremendously based on the task or the system the driver is using.”

To assess “real-world” impact, Dr. Joel Cooper with Precision Driving Research evaluated the two most common voice-based interactions in which drivers engage – changing radio stations and voice dialing – with the actual voice-activated systems found in six different automakers’ vehicles. On the five point scale, Toyota’s Entune® system garnered the lowest cognitive distraction ranking (at 1.7), which is similar to listening to an audio book. In comparison, the Chevrolet MyLink® resulted in a high level of cognitive distraction (rating of 3.7). Other systems tested included the Hyundai Blue Link (rating 2.2), the Chrysler Uconnect™ (rating 2.7), Ford SYNC with MyFord Touch® (rating 3.0) and the Mercedes COMAND® (rating 3.1).

“It is clear that not all voice systems are created equal, and today’s imperfect systems can lead to driver distraction,” continued Darbelnet. “AAA is confident that it will be possible to make safer systems in the future.”

This phase of the research highlights the variability in demands across all the systems tested.

AAA is calling for developers to address key contributing factors to mental distraction including complexity, accuracy and time on task with the goal of making systems that are no more demanding than listening to the radio or an audiobook. AAA also plans to use the findings to continue a dialogue with policy makers, safety advocates and manufacturers.

To view the full report, “Measuring Cognitive Distraction in the Vehicle II: Assessing In-Vehicle Voice-based Interactive Technologies,” and other materials on distracted driving, visit NewsRoom.AAA.com. This study builds upon groundbreaking research conducted last year, which found that drivers can be dangerously distracted even if their eyes are on the road and their hands are on the wheel. AAA promoted the study in the release:  Think You Know All About Distracted Driving? Think Again, Says AAA.

Established by AAA in 1947, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, publicly-supported charitable educational and research organization. Dedicated to saving lives and reducing injuries on our roads, the Foundation’s mission is to prevent crashes and save lives through research and education about traffic safety. The Foundation has funded over 200 research projects designed to discover the causes of traffic crashes, prevent them and minimize injuries when they do occur.  Visit www.aaafoundation.org for more information on this and other research.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

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