Posts Tagged ‘transportation’

Michael GreenStatement by Kathleen Bower, Vice President of Public Affairs

WASHINGTON, D.C, (April 2, 2014) – “AAA agrees with Chairman Ryan that user fees should be a guiding principle of the Highway Trust Fund. User fees are deficit neutral and provide predictable funding on which state and local transportation officials can rely.

“However, Ryan’s budget plan will not provide an appropriate level of investment necessary to build and maintain the nation’s 21st century transportation system.  The significant cuts he is proposing will hamper investments in safety, further delay needed bridge improvements and hamper mobility in and around congested urban areas.

“The best solution for the near term would be a fiscally responsible proposal — such as increasing the federal gas tax coupled with improved accountability — that adds additional revenue to the Highway Trust Fund and helps make America globally competitive over the long term.”

Michael Green(WASHINGTON, March 4, 2014) “The President’s budget provides essential funds over the next four years for the nation’s transportation system and AAA is encouraged by Secretary Foxx’s pledge that his department will submit a full reauthorization proposal to Congress in the coming months.  However, AAA remains concerned with Washington’s tendency to make short-term fixes that only patch, not solve, the U.S. transportation funding crisis.

“Once again, policymakers are settling on politically palatable revenue generators instead of setting the stage for the transportation program to return a meaningful reauthorization and funding process.  These sorts of “solutions” can only provide funding for limited term bills and assure only that we avert, not solve this crisis.

“AAA continues to believe that the gas tax represents the most viable, responsible and effective mechanism to achieve the goal of sustaining a transportation system that supports a vital U.S. economy, provided the additional funds generated are thoughtfully spent on transportation improvements that ease congestion and increase safety.  AAA urges the President and  Congressional leaders to make choices that serve U.S. interests in the long-term, instead of short-term fixes.”

Michael Green Contact TileAAA Helping to Make Driving Safer, Improve Mobility and Protect Motorists’ Rights

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Feb. 25, 2014) – AAA will prioritize important state advocacy issues this year including transportation funding, distracted driving, teen driver safety, impaired driving and connected cars. These priorities will help make driving safer, improve mobility and protect motorists’ rights.

“This is an important year because many states lack the money needed to build and maintain the roads that millions of us use every day,” said Jennifer Ryan, AAA director of state relations. “The federal government has failed to adequately address this issue, and many state legislatures must find new ways to pay for improvements. Every driver wants improved safety and reduced traffic congestion, and AAA will do everything it can to help states achieve these goals.”

AAA’s state advocacy priorities in 2014 include:

  • Transportation funding – Many states are looking to address transportation funding needs due to federal inaction. Congress has not updated the 18.4 cents per gallon gas tax that funds the Highway Trust Fund in more than 20 years, which means federal transportation funding per mile has been significantly eroded due to inflation and increased fuel efficiency of vehicles. Last year, six states including Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, and Wyoming, passed legislation to adjust their statewide gas taxes to help pay for roads and bridges. No state passed a law increasing the gas tax in the three years prior to 2013.  As many as 28 additional states may debate funding options this year. AAA will provide expertise as policymakers examine ways to pay for critical transportation projects and safety improvements.
  • Distracted driving – AAA will continue to work with state legislatures to reduce distracted driving. AAA launched a national legislative campaign in 2009 to ban texting while driving in all 50 states, and only eight states remain without a law, including Arizona, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and Texas. A texting ban bill in New Mexico is awaiting action by the governor.  Distracted driving remains a serious safety concern and is responsible for about 3,000 fatalities and 420,000 injuries per year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Taking your eyes off the road for more than two seconds, such as when texting, can double your risk of being in a crash.
  • Teen driver safety –Car crashes end more teen lives than cancer, homicide and suicide combined. To help improve teen safety, AAA is urging all states to adopt and enforce a comprehensive three-stage graduated driver licensing (GDL) system for teen drivers. While all states have some form of a GDL law, there is room for improvement. Only seven states (Delaware, Indiana, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma and West Virginia) currently have GDL systems that meet AAA’s guidelines for nighttime limits, passenger limits and practice requirements. Safety experts credit GDL laws for much of the 57 percent decline in traffic fatalities for 16- and 17-year-old drivers between 1995 and 2010.
  • Impaired driving – More than 10,000 people die in alcohol-impaired driving crashes per year, which accounts for approximately one-third of the total motor vehicle traffic fatalities in the United States.More needs to be done to reduce crashes involving alcohol. Research has identified the life-saving benefit of ignition interlocks, which are more effective than other methods at reducing repeat offenses among convicted drunk drivers. Only 18 states and four California counties mandate or highly incentivize ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers, and AAA is urging the 32 remaining states to improve safety by requiring ignition interlocks for all offenders.
  • Connected cars – New cars are increasingly equipped with wireless connectivity, enabling them to transmit data outside the vehicle to improve safety and convenience for drivers. These technologies will transform the driving experience, yet also will allow companies to collect large amounts of potentially sensitive personal data. AAA is working to educate state policymakers on the potential ramifications for drivers by promoting consumer rights for car data that ensure transparency, choice and security.

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“The President’s proposal for maintaining roads and bridges is well intentioned, but falls short of what is required because it does not provide a sustainable funding solution for the nation’s transportation problems. AAA urges Congress and the Administration to instead focus on options like increasing the gas tax because it is the most effective and fair way to fund transportation in the near term.

Additional Resources

“AAA supports solutions like Representative Blumenauer’s proposal to increase the federal gas tax by fifteen cents per gallon. A gas tax increase would provide the necessary funds to improve our system, while also upholding the long-standing principle that those who use the roads should pay for their upkeep. Increasing the gas tax is deficit-neutral and would provide funding certainty for the program into the future.

“Americans endure frustrating commutes and unsafe road conditions because our political leaders have not demonstrated the political will necessary to fund current, let alone future, transportation needs. It costs real money to maintain thousands of miles of roads and bridges, yet Washington has too often overlooked the needs of drivers.

“Congress and the Administration must work together and put divisions aside. I hope that in the coming weeks our leaders will move quickly and act responsibly on this important issue.”

 

Nancy WhiteWASHINGTON, D.C. (Dec. 4, 2013)

Statement by Kathleen Bower, AAA Vice President of Public Affairs

“AAA supports Rep. Earl Blumenauer’s efforts to provide necessary investment to fund our nation’s roads and bridges.  Though it would be easier to simply kick the can down the road, today’s proposed legislation takes a necessary step forward in fostering debate on an important issue that many policymakers have been reluctant to address.

“AAA members rely each and every day on the roads, bridges and transit systems that are funded, in part, by the gas taxes that they pay to the federal government.   And when these systems deteriorate – as they have for years now – it not only frustrates our members, but it imposes real costs in terms of safety, time and maintenance.

“The country desperately needs additional funding for infrastructure and for the moment there is no better means than the fuel tax.  The proposed increase is well over due and in line with what most experts suggest would be appropriate.

“Our transportation system is critical to our economy, and Americans value their mobility.  There are no easy answers, and no way to avoid the need for investment.  Asking Americans to pay more is not easy, but it’s the right thing to do for the country.”

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(Washington, December 1, 2013) Taxing the vehicle miles traveled (VMT) of motorists as the primary mechanism for funding transportation is an idea that has garnered increased attention as a potential replacement for state and federal motor fuel taxes. While motor fuel taxes have long generated the majority of revenues for the Highway Trust Fund, increasing vehicle fuel efficiency and the emergence of alternative fuels threaten the long-term viability of this critical funding source.

Under a VMT tax system, vehicles would be equipped with technology capable of logging the number of miles traveled.  Various levels of sophistication are being tested.  The technology could allow for multiple levels of taxation (federal, state, local) and enhanced pricing systems (drivers could be charged by time of day, level of congestion, type of road, etc.).  The variable pricing ability enabled by a VMT system is considered a key benefit by some and a source for concern by others.  Pricing could be established to help combat congestion, pollution, or excessive road wear.  Total charges could be calculated and paid either at the gas pump or via a monthly bill.

The two national transportation commissions authorized by SAFETEA-LU recommended transitioning to a VMT system for the long-term, beginning the transition to such a system in the next ten to fifteen years. A VMT fee pilot project was completed last year in Oregon and the University of Iowa is currently field testing a system in six states: California, Idaho, Iowa, Maryland, North Carolina and Texas.  The Oregon pilot demonstrated that the use of technology to charge drivers by the mile is viable, but underscored that a variety of technical, administrative and public concerns would need to be overcome before it could be implemented statewide, or at the national level, including consumer privacy concerns, communications standards between the vehicle and service infrastructure, auto manufacturer supported specifications and testing, tax collection and revenue distribution.  Also, an upcoming study by the National Academy of Sciences is expected to conclude there are limited deployment options in the next few years.

AAA Recommendations

  • A number of credible sources have come to similar conclusions about the need to shift to a vehicle miles traveled charging system.  However, a nationwide VMT system, or even a state-level system, can’t be implemented next week, next month, or even next year.  In the short term we must rely on existing funding mechanisms (gas tax, tolling, truck engine taxes, etc.) to adequately fund the transportation system.
  • Pilot tests in Oregon and other areas have demonstrated some of the technical challenges that would need to be overcome with a VMT system, in addition to addressing the public’s significant concerns about privacy.  Any future alternative to the gas tax must be carefully evaluated as to its ability to be efficiently implemented; accepted by the public; allocated fairly and equitably; fully dedicated to transportation needs; and resistant to fraud and diversion.

While additional testing of the VMT concept is conducted, policymakers will need to be upfront with Americans about the various transportation funding options – what they’ll be asked to pay, and what they can expect in return.

Michael Green

 

 

 

 

 

 

AAA issued the following letter to the Congressional panel on 21st Century Freight Transportation urging that its members reject any proposal to increase truck size and weight standards due to significant safety concerns:

 

The Honorable John J. Duncan
Chair
Panel on 21st Century Freight Transportation
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Jerrold Nadler
Ranking Member
Panel on 21st Century Freight Transportation
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman Duncan and Ranking Member Nadler:

AAA appreciates the commitment of the Panel on 21st Century Freight Transportation to look for solutions to help facilitate efficient freight movement on the nation’s multi-modal transportation infrastructure network.   As you prepare to finalize the panel’s recommendations, I would like to share AAA’s concern with one of the recommendations discussed at the October 1 hearing on the subject.

During the hearing, one of the industry groups recommended endorsement of the Safe and Efficient Transportation Act (SETA), H.R. 612, which would allow states to permit 97,000 pound trucks on its roadways including the Interstates.  AAA strongly urges the panel to forego any action  to raise the federal truck size and weight limits until federal research authorized in “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century” (MAP-21) is completed.

As you know, MAP-21 included a focus on establishing a stronger national freight program.  It included a two-year research project to assess the implications  of allowing longer, heavier trucks on the nation’s roads and bridges and a safety analysis of different configurations, including the 97,000 lb. GVWR, six-axle truck configuration.  This USDOT research must be completed before any recommendations are considered relative to changing current federal regulations.

A look at the most recent NHTSA data shows fatalities in crashes involving large trucks increased nine percent, from 3,380 in 2009 to 3,675 in 2010.  Of the fatalities in crashes involving large trucks during 2010, 76 percent were occupants of other vehicles.  Based on these data alone, we believe that any proposals to increase truck size and weight are premature and misguided until the research is concluded and reviewed.

Until key questions about the impact of bigger and heavier trucks on infrastructure and on highway safety are addressed, AAA will continue to oppose any change in current truck size or weight limits.

CC:  Panel on 21st Century Freight Transportation members

The Honorable Gary Miller The Honorable Corrine Brown
The Honorable Rick Crawford The Honorable Daniel Lipinski
The Honorable Richard Hanna The Honorable Albio Sires
The Honorable Daniel Webster The Honorable Janice Hahn
The Honorable Markwayne Mullin

Michael GreenCongress and Administration Responsible for Letting the Highway System Deteriorate

Orlando, FL, (Oct. 22, 2013) AAA President and CEO Bob Darbelnet today addressed the nation’s transportation funding crisis during a board meeting of the American Trucking Associations (ATA). The following are selected remarks from his speech:

“By this time next year, the Highway Trust Fund will have insufficient funds to meet its obligations, which will cause further deterioration of nation’s roads and bridges. Regrettably, this looming crisis has not translated into Congressional action, nor a public outcry.

“There are a few leaders in Washington who stress the importance of infrastructure to our economy.  While we might give them high marks for effort, they are not getting a passing grade for results.

“Both Congress and the Administration are culpable of gross negligence by letting one of our nation’s greatest assets deteriorate. It is a shameful demonstration of bad government.

“Politicians have a choice – they can govern through leadership or they can govern through crisis. Our lawmakers seem content to wait for a crisis to take the action that we all know will eventually be unavoidable. Leadership involves taking risk, and the courage to do so seems in short supply.

“No one questions the need to invest far more in transportation, but there is no political will to provide the required funding.  The reality is that a dime increase in the gas tax, properly spent where actually needed, is unlikely to derail the re-election of an otherwise meritorious politician.

“But the fault isn’t just with lawmakers – there is plenty of blame to go around. The truth is we have done a poor job of mobilizing support for what we know needs to happen. I believe we need to do five things to address this issue:

  1. Establish a concerted coalition effort to construct a plan of action that focuses on not just what is needed, but what is possible.
  2. Agree on acceptable transportation funding mechanisms and articulate clear guidelines to ensure proper use of the funds.
  3. Educate voters on why the increase in funding is required. Public support is likely the most important ingredient for building stronger backbones in Congress.
  4. Broaden our focus to include both federal and state opportunities to fund transportation.
  5. Make sure we properly resource the effort. We need to ensure that we don’t set forth on this endeavor without fully understanding – and committing – the resources that are required.

“Without a safe and efficient transportation network, goods can’t be delivered cost effectively, family trips will take longer, and gridlock will continue to stifle the nation’s long-term economic recovery. Thank you for having me here today and I look forward to continuing to work together on these important issues.”

Michael Green Contact Tile(ORLANDO, May 28, 2013) Yesterday’s national average retail price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline was $3.63 and marked the second consecutive year that the average American motorist has paid less per gallon at the pump when filling up for their Memorial Day holiday travel. The national average on the previous two Memorial Days was $3.64 per gallon (May 28, 2012) and $3.79 (May 30, 2011). AAA forecast that 31.2 million American drivers took to the road this holiday weekend to travel 50 miles or more from home, up slightly from 31.1 million last year.

Gas Prices 2012 vs 2013-5-28

Today’s national average price for regular unleaded gasoline is $3.63 per gallon. This price is thirteen cents more expensive than one month ago but it is three cents less expensive than one week ago. The average American motorist has enjoyed a lower year-over-year pump price for 87 consecutive days, but those savings have narrowed substantially to less than two cents per gallon, down significantly from the peak year-to-date discount of 39 cents on April 18.

Basic CMYKFollowing 17 straight days of increases, the national average price at the pump has now dropped for six consecutive days. The national price is only three cents per gallon below the recent peak of $3.66 on May 22 – the highest price since March 25 – but it is still more than a dime less than the peak price to date of $3.79 per gallon on February 27.

The recent decline in the national average has been keyed by dramatic price drops in the Midwest where many motorists have seen pump prices retreat from historic highs. Following a breakneck run up due to low gasoline supplies and significant refinery maintenance – both planned and unplanned – a handful states in that region have registered week-over-week declines of more than ten cents per gallon. While drivers in Minnesota have seen the most rapid decline as prices have fallen by nearly a quarter during the same period, the average in the state is still historically high at more than $4 per gallon.

Top10 Weekly Declines-5-28

While national gasoline markets have been driven by regional supply and production issues, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil prices remained relatively flat in recent weeks. At the close of today’s formal trading on the NYMEX, WTI settled up 86 cents at $95.01 per barrel.

Michael Green Contact TileORLANDO, Fl (May 20, 2013) Today’s national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is $3.65. This price is seven cents more expensive than one week ago and 14 cents more than one month ago. The seven-cent weekly increase is the largest such spike since February and today’s national average price at the pump is the highest since March.

While the average American motorist has enjoyed a less expensive year-over-year pump price for 79 consecutive days, the savings have narrowed to just four cents per gallon, down substantially from the peak year-to-date discount of 39 cents on April 18. With the national average rising steadily, compared to a year ago when prices were tumbling, it is likely that the average will once again rise above year-ago levels in the coming days and may be more expensive than last year for the approaching Memorial Day holiday weekend.

US-fuel-prices-5-20

Midwest-Prices-5-20Higher crude oil prices may be the reason that drivers in every state are paying more for gasoline than two weeks ago, but tight regional supplies and refinery maintenance – both planned and unplanned – are the reason for the dramatically higher pump prices in the Midwest and West Coast. In particular, the average price paid by motorists in Minnesota (+68 cents) and North Dakota (+63 cents) has spiked more than sixty cents during this period, propelling both state averages to new all-time highs. The previous record in both states was in July 2008; at the same time the national average soared to what is still a record of $4.11 per gallon.

While not yet at record highs, three states (Iowa, Neb. and Okla.) have had prices increase by more than 50 cents in two weeks and are within a dime of their respective all-time highest pump prices. Rising Midwest prices may have slowed over the weekend from their recent breakneck pace, but motorists are not out of the woods yet as regional supplies remain low and heavy storms were forecast yesterday and today. No refinery disruptions have been reported as a result of the storms, but the potential remains for additional refinery issues in the already supply-strapped region.

Top10-Highest-State-Avgs-5-20With the upcoming Memorial Day holiday marking the unofficial start to summer, the national average continues to cling to a year-over-year discount; however motorists in all twelve Midwestern states and Oklahoma are paying at least a dime per gallon more than on this date in 2012. The national average on the previous two Memorial Days were $3.64 (May 28, 2012) and $3.79 (May 30, 2011).

With much of the focus on volatile regional gasoline markets, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil prices have continued to drift higher in recent weeks. At the close of today’s formal trading on the NYMEX, WTI settled up 69 cents at $96.71 per barrel. This is the highest settlement price for WTI in more than 6 weeks.

Podcasts

B-Roll

YouTube Videos

AAA Senior Driver Expos

NewsRoom Video Gallery

Media: Find and Download AAA Videos and B Roll.