Posts Tagged ‘Robert Darbelnet’

JulieHall

Busy year-end holidays will be marked by more travelers than ever on record

ORLANDO, Fla., (December 16, 2014) – AAA projects 98.6 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the year-end holiday season, an increase of four percent from the 94.8 million people who traveled last year. This upward trend marks the highest forecast growth rate for the year-end holiday season since 2009 and the highest travel volume for the holiday period on record. (AAA data dates back to 2001.) The year-end holiday period is defined as Tuesday, December 23 to Sunday, January 4.

Highlights from 2014/2015 Year-End Holiday Travel Forecast:

  • Holiday travel is expected to total 98.6 million, an increase of four percent from the 94.8 million who traveled last year.
  • Travel volume for the year-end holidays will reach the highest peak recorded by AAA (since 2001).
  • Nearly 91 percent of all travelers (89.5 million) will celebrate the holidays with a road trip, an increase of 4.2 percent from 2013.
  • Air travel is forecast to grow one percent from 2013, with 5.7 million travelers taking to the skies.
  • Low gas prices continue to help boost disposable income this holiday season, with today’s national average price of gas at $2.53 per gallon, 70 cents less than a year ago.

Additional Resources

“’Tis the season for holiday travel, and this year more Americans will join with friends and family to celebrate the holidays and ring in the New Year than ever before,” said Marshall L. Doney, AAA President and Chief Operating Officer. “While the economy continues to improve at an uneven pace, it seems more Americans are looking forward with increasing consumer confidence, rather than looking back at the recession. This is helping to drive expected travel volumes to the highest level we have seen for the year-end holidays.”

“Lower gas prices are filling stockings with a little more cash to spend on travel this year as travelers are expected to pay the lowest prices since 2009,” continued Doney. “Lower prices are increasing disposable income and enabling families to set aside money for travel this year.”

The calendar is having a positive effect on the number of travelers expected this year. This year the holidays land on a Thursday, creating a holiday travel season that is one day longer than last year’s and the longest since 2008, offering travelers more options for departures and return trips. This flexibility makes it possible for more people to fit holiday travel into their schedules.

With more than 90 percent of holiday travelers driving to their destinations, AAA urges everyone on the road to be extra diligent about the dangers of impaired driving. According to the latest data from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s annual Traffic Safety Culture Index, one in eight of all licensed drivers who drink at least occasionally reported having driven when they thought their alcohol level might have been close to, or possibly over, the legal limit in the past year.

The survey also reveals 91 percent of drivers consider impaired driving to be unacceptable, with 42 percent reporting that drunk drivers are a bigger problem today versus three years ago.  “Despite the ubiquitous warnings about drinking and driving, especially during the holiday season, an average of one alcohol-impaired driving death occurs every 45 minutes,” said Doney.

AAA works year-round to educate motorists about driving practices that will help keep them safe and reduce traffic-related crashes and injuries.  PreventDUI.AAA.com is an online resource offering impaired driving facts, transportation alternatives and expert advice.

Impact of gasoline prices on travel plans

Today’s national average price of gasoline is at the lowest level in five years and 70 cents lower than last year, a welcome gift for holiday travelers. Gas prices have fallen for 82 days in a row, helping to increase Americans’ disposable income 3.5 percent from year-ago levels, which has had a positive effect on travel.

Hotel, car rental rates rise modestly

According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to increase four percent from one year ago with travelers spending an average of $143 per night compared to $138 last year. The average hotel rate for AAA Two Diamond hotels has risen five percent with an average cost of $108 per night. Daily car rental rates will average $66, four percent higher than last year.

Airfares fall seven percent this year, driven by low-cost carriers

Average discounted round-trip airfares across 40 top domestic routes are expected to fall seven percent this year, to $186. This is influenced by the availability of discounted rates from low-cost carriers in several top markets. AAA encourages travelers to consider the full cost of a ticket when purchasing air travel, as many airlines charge ancillary fees for checked bags, meals, priority boarding and seat assignments.

AAA expects to rescue 1.1 million motorists this holiday season

Between December 23 and January 4, AAA expects to come to the rescue of more than 1.1 million motorists with the primary reasons for breakdowns being dead batteries, flat tires and lockouts. AAA recommends motorists check battery and tire condition and prepare vehicles for winter driving before heading out on a holiday getaway. Car care tips and information are available at AAA.com.

AAA offers travel planning resources

AAA’s digital tools for travel planning on the go include the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Travelers can use the app to map a route, find current gas prices and discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance. Travelers can learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

On AAA.com, travelers can find more than 58,000 AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants using the TripTik Travel Planner or the searchable Travel Guides at AAA.com/Travel. Every AAA Approved establishment offers the assurance of acceptable cleanliness, comfort and hospitality, and ratings of One to Five Diamonds help travelers find the right match for amenities and services.

AAA’s collection of downloadable eTourBook guides for tablets and smartphones is available free to members at AAA.com/ebooks. Choose from 101 top North American destinations including city titles, like the award-winning Las Vegas, and regions like Wine Country and national parks.

AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight. The Colorado-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during the major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. The complete AAA/IHS Global Insight 2014 Year-End Travel Forecast can be found here.

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. For more information about AAA Travel, visit AAA.com/Travel.

 

Pump Prices Likely Below $2.50 by Christmas

December 15th, 2014 by admin

Michael Green Contact Tile(WASHINGTON, December 15, 2014) Holiday cheer has come early for the motoring public, with the average for retail gasoline at its lowest level in more than five years. Today’s national average price for regular unleaded gasoline is $2.55 per gallon. The average price at the pump is more than a dime (-12 cents) less than one week ago and more than a quarter (-36 cents) less than a month ago. The national average is down 69 cents from this same date last year and has now dropped on 81 consecutive days for a total of 80 cents during this stretch. Motorists are paying $1.15 less than the peak 2014 price, which was $3.70 on April 8. AAA estimates drivers are saving more than $400 million dollars each day compared to the high prices paid earlier this year.

 Avg-Gas-Prices-2011-2014

The average price at the pump has fallen nearly 25 percent since the start of the year, and if the global price of crude continues to register new multiyear lows, these lower prices are likely to persist. Barring any unexpected spikes in global prices, or declines in domestic production, the price at the pump should remain relatively low approaching the New Year and into 2015.

Every state in the continental United States is posting an average price below the $3.00 per gallon benchmark. Hawaii ($3.70) and Alaska ($3.39), as is often the case, are the nation’s most expensive markets for retail gasoline and of the lower 48 states drivers in the northeast are paying the most per gallon:  New York ($2.98), Connecticut ($2.90) and Washington, D.C. ($2.90). The nation’s least expensive markets are the Midwestern states of Missouri ($2.25) and Oklahoma ($2.29), closely followed by the Gulf Coast states of Texas ($2.33) and Mississippi ($2.33).

 10-least-Expensive-Avg-Gas-Prices-12-15-14

The impact of falling global oil prices for consumers is abundantly clear in the retail gasoline market with prices lower nationwide on the week, month and year. The price at the pump is down by a nickel or more week-over-week in every state and Washington, D.C. Forty-one states are registering savings of a dime or more, and the most dramatic savings are in Idaho (-22 cents), Michigan (-20 cents), Ohio (-19 cents) and Indiana (-19 cents). Drivers in Michigan (-56 cents), Idaho (-54 cents) Indiana (-51 cents) and South Dakota (-50 cents) are saving the most on a month-over-month basis. The price in every state has dropped by twenty cents or more during this span.

Yearly comparisons continue to reflect even more extreme discounts at the pump, largely due to the price of crude setting new multi-year lows.  With the exception of Hawaii (-22 cents) and Alaska (-29 cents), the price at the pump is down in every state and Washington, D.C. by more than 35 cents versus this same date last year. Forty-two states are posting a discount of 50 cents or more per gallon year-over-year and drivers in 20 states are saving 70 cents or more. The largest savings are in Florida (-80 cents), Maine (-79 cents) and Kentucky (-79 cents).

 Top10-Weekly-Savings-12-15-14

Concerns of sluggish global oil demand combined with abundant supply continue to leave global oil markets searching for a bottom. Just two months ago market watchers were divided on the likelihood that the prices of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) would fall below $80 per barrel. Last week, for the first time since 2009, the price of WTI dropped below $60. WTI is now approximately 40 percent cheaper than the start of the year and nearly 50 percent below the high in June ($107.26). The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) continues to maintain production levels, and the cartel’s three biggest members are reportedly ramping up exports to Asia in an effort to sustain market share in that region. Reductions in global oil prices have ultimately meant a welcome savings at the pump for motorists; however sustained low prices could impact U.S. production, which is more expensive than its global counterparts. Market watchers are also beginning to consider the potential for geopolitical instability in countries that are heavily dependent on oil exports to balance their budgets, including Venezuela and Nigeria. WTI was down $2.14 to settle at $57.81 per barrel on Friday at the close of formal trading on the NYMEX.

Heather HunterStatement from AAA CEO Bob Darbelnet

ORLANDO, Fla., (December 3, 2014) – “It is unacceptable that Takata continues to defy an order by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) to facilitate a national recall of dangerous air bags. While Takata officials continue to publically apologize for the deaths associated with the faulty air bags, they simultaneously ignored a midnight deadline by NHTSA to order a national recall.”

“Defying NHTSA should not be an option as motorists remain in danger from defective air bag inflators. NHTSA should act swiftly to use its full authority to compel a nationwide recall as quickly as possible. If the Agency does not have sufficient authority, Congress should act to clarify and expand this ability – be it through more substantial fines or other measures. As time passes more motorists remain at risk from the faulty air bags that have been linked to at least five deaths.”

“AAA fully supports NHTSA’s call for a national recall of affected Takata air bags beyond the limited high-humidity areas where a recall has to date been focused. Vehicles are increasingly bought and sold across state lines and may move long distances across the country. It is unreasonable to assume that vehicles outside of high humidity regions are inherently safe so it is in the best interest of consumers to expand this recall to all states. Motorists’ safety is a national issue that is not confined by regional boundaries and should take precedence over profits.  Takata’s refusal to cooperate with NHTSA’s investigation is unacceptable and demonstrates their failure to fully understand, address and report the scope of the air bag deficiencies as soon as the problem was identified. AAA is calling on Takata, car manufacturers, and all parties involved to ensure that a national recall is handled in a timely manner.”

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 HunterStatement from AAA CEO Bob Darbelnet

ORLANDO, Fla., (November 20, 2014) – “AAA supports NHTSA’s action to call for a full national recall of affected Takata airbags. Vehicles are often bought and sold across state lines so it is in the best interest of consumers to expand this recall to all states. Testimony from today’s hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee further underscored that the grave danger from these defective airbags is a national safety priority and should be treated as such. Motorists’ safety is a national issue that is not confined by regional boundaries. Takata’s handling of this investigation and recall is unacceptable and demonstrates their failure to fully understand, address and communicate the scope of the airbag deficiencies as soon as the problem was identified.”

“The tremendous number of vehicle recalls issued to date this year is understandably alarming to motorists and must lead to systematic changes to the way that regulators and manufacturers protect the safety of motorists. AAA fully supports legislative proposals that call for reforms to strengthen the recall process, increase penalties for inaction by manufacturers, and clarify additional NHTSA oversight responsibilities. Accountability, transparency and full and timely disclosure of any potential safety defect is not negotiable when it comes to motorist safety.”

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.

Michael Green Contact TileWASHINGTON (Nov. 19, 2014) — “AAA applauds the nomination of Mark Rosekind to be the next NHSTA administrator. Mr. Rosekind’s experience with and commitment to motorist safety will be a tremendous asset to an agency that faces important questions about breakdowns in the recall process and is tasked with overseeing the emergence of vehicle safety technologies. AAA urges Congress to act swiftly to approve this nomination and fill the administrator position that has been vacant for far too long.”

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.

Michael GreenStatement by Bob Darbelnet, President and CEO of AAA

(WASHINGTON, July 31, 2014) “AAA is disappointed that the House has allowed politics and an easily fixable drafting error to interfere with a bipartisan proposal that would set the stage for a long-term transportation bill. It is imperative that the Highway Trust Fund remain solvent, but Congress ultimately must work to secure the multi-year funding for transportation that American motorists expect and deserve.

“The Senate bill would have positioned Congress to work toward passage of multi-year, fully funded transportation legislation following the elections in November. The House extension delays the tough decisions until 2015, which puts jobs, the economy and American mobility at risk. AAA looks forward to working with those leaders in Congress who seek to secure a multi-year transportation bill that focuses on results, ensures adequate funding and keeps the safety of our roads and bridges a national priority.”

Michael Green(WASHINGTON, July 30, 2014) AAA’s President and CEO, Bob Darbelnet, today sent the following letter to Congressional leaders urging them to fix the Highway Trust Fund this year:

Dear Speaker Boehner and Leader Pelosi,

As the nation’s largest organization representing motorists, AAA urges the House to act immediately to take up and pass the bipartisan Senate bill to extend funding for surface transportation programs until December of this year.

Funding for America’s roads and bridges is yet again in imminent danger of running out. It is imperative that you act swiftly to ensure the immediate solvency of the Highway Trust Fund; however congressional focus must remain a multi-year proposal that will meet the long-term needs of drivers. This is accomplished in the Senate bill, which passed with broad bipartisan support.

The best short-term remedy is one that extends funding until December and positions Congress to work toward passage of a long-term, fully funded transportation bill following the elections in November. An extension that delays the tough decisions until 2015 jeopardizes Congress’ ability to reach an agreement on a long-term transportation funding solution and puts jobs, the economy, and American mobility at risk.

For this reason, AAA urges you to take up and pass the bipartisan Senate bill without delay.

Sincerely,

Robert L. Darbelnet

 

Nancy White“AAA commends the Senate for taking a major first step toward making a long-term investment in America’s transportation infrastructure. The passage of the bipartisan amendment, proposed by Senators Boxer, Corker and Carper, sends a strong signal that Congress recognizes the importance of passing a multi-year, sustainable funding solution to fix the nation’s transportation crisis and is willing to put politics aside and work together to enhance American mobility and improve safety.

“The House must now follow suit and act immediately to pass this amended bill, which will prevent the immediate insolvency of the Highway Trust Fund. However they must also commit to reaching a long-term solution to our nation’s transportation funding needs by the December deadline that has been set in this legislation. In the coming months, AAA will continue to advocate for a long-term transportation bill that focuses on results, ensures adequate funding, and keeps the safety of our roads and bridges a national priority.”

 

Michael Green(WASHINGTON, July 24, 2014) AAA’s President and CEO, Bob Darbelnet, today sent the following letter to members of the U.S. Senate urging them to consider the long-term needs of drivers:

As the nation’s largest organization representing motorists, AAA urges you to vote yes on the amendment proposed by Senators Boxer, Corker, and Carper to extend funding for surface transportation programs through December 20, 2014.

Funding for America’s roads and bridges is once again in imminent danger of running out. While it is imperative that you act swiftly to ensure the immediate solvency Highway Trust Fund, the focus must remain on a proposal that will help meet the long-term needs of drivers.

The best short-term patch is one that extends funding through December 20, 2014 and positions Congress to working toward passage of a long-term, fully funded transportation bill during the lame duck session following the elections in November. An extension that delays the tough decisions until 2015 jeopardizes Congress’ ability to reach an agreement on a long-term transportation funding solution and puts jobs, the economy, and American mobility at risk.

For this reason, AAA urges you to vote yes on the amendment proposed by Senators Boxer, Corker, and Carper.

Sincerely,

Robert L. Darbelnet

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