Statement by AAA CEO & President Bob Darbelnet on the nomination of Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx as the new US DOT Secretary
April 29th, 2013 by admin
(WASHINGTON, April 29, 2013) “AAA is encouraged by President Obama’s nomination of Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx to be the new U.S. Secretary of Transportation. We look forward to working with Mayor Foxx once confirmed by the U.S. Senate, and we are hopeful that he will help make transportation a top national priority. Mayor Foxx will face many challenges because the nation must address a significant transportation funding shortfall, and there are still too many Americans losing their lives on the nation’s roadways.
AAA appreciates retiring Secretary Ray LaHood’s unwavering commitment and bipartisanship in achieving national transportation goals. Secretary LaHood helped raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving and worked with AAA and other stakeholders towards a national goal of zero traffic deaths. His bipartisan efforts also helped achieve passage of a multi-year transportation bill, MAP-21, which included significant program reform and added funds for transportation.”
March 21st, 2013 by admin
Statement by AAA President & CEO Robert L. Darbelnet:
“Today’s action by the U.S. House of Representatives in passing a continuing resolution is a victory for highway safety. The U.S. Senate served the nation’s interests through a bipartisan effort to ensure that MAP-21′s highway safety programs were adequately funded, which President Obama supported. Over the last few weeks, AAA clubs from around the country weighed in to get this done.
Safety funding comes at a crucial time, as we are now seeing a slight uptick in roadway fatalities. Today’s action was a good example of bipartisan collaboration that will help deliver better transportation solutions for the American people.”
March 19th, 2013 by admin
“The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) today gave the nation’s bridges a “C+” grade, up from a “C” four years ago; and roads got a “D” grade, up from a “D-” in 2009. The good news for drivers is that the condition of the nation’s roads and bridges has improved slightly since the last report card was issued. The bad news is grades like these aren’t going to get us where we need to go in terms of safety, mobility or economic recovery.
We don’t want a C+ economy, and can’t settle for a D, or even C+ transportation system. We need Congress to take the lead, work toward a long term funding solution and ensure the American public understands the importance of investing in our transportation system before we fall further behind.”
February 12th, 2013 by admin
Statement by AAA’s President and CEO Robert Darbelnet in Response to President Obama’s State of the Union Address
“President Obama’s support for transportation infrastructure in tonight’s State of the Union address is of critical importance to millions of American motorists that depend on safe roads and bridges to support their livelihoods and their families.
“America’s Interstate Highway System became the envy of the world decades ago because our nation’s leaders worked together to implement far-reaching polices of historic importance. The leaders of the time did not let the political risks detract them from developing a highway network that would stand as a monument to the engineering excellence of the United States.
“It is no secret that a great political divide and considerable funding issues have created significant road blocks to sustaining a safe and an improved infrastructure. Every day millions of frustrated Americans lose valuable time and money waiting in traffic, and they are relying on their elected officials to provide relief.
“AAA urges both the President and Congress to prioritize transportation this year to ensure that American’s can get to work, go to school and travel from state to state on roads that once again become the most efficient, safe and reliable in the world.”
September 19th, 2012 by admin
(WASHINGTON, September 19, 2012) “I am deeply concerned that both Congress and President Obama have agreed to new FY 2013 federal spending levels that fail to implement the funding and safety gains planned in the recently adopted transportation law. The continuing resolution agreement breaks a promise made by both parties earlier this year to fully fund road, bridge and transit systems and new safety programs designed to reduce distracted driving and improve teen driver safety. AAA will work to ensure that critical funds are restored and vital safety programs are implemented as soon as possible.”
September 13th, 2012 by admin
(BOSTON, September 13, 2012) — Transportation infrastructure may not be the most glamorous work of government, but it is a crucial part of the state’s growth strategy, Governor Deval Patrick said earlier today at a meeting of the national Board of Directors of AAA.
The Governor said improving the state’s roads, rails and bridges – in particular, through the five-year plan supported by a newly signed $1.5 billion transportation bond bill – will create jobs and a platform for future economic development.
“Increasingly, I think it is incumbent upon us to connect transportation strategy with economic development strategy,” Patrick said. “We’re talking about a train to the South Coast – to New Bedford and Fall River. It’s not just about convenience; it’s about opening up that region to the innovation economy in Boston. We need to think that way, talk that way, plan our transportation from that perspective, so people get a sense of the whole thing.”
The AAA Board held its quarterly meeting at the Ritz-Carlton, Boston Common hotel.
“This is the first time a sitting Governor has addressed AAA’s national Board of Directors,” said Boston attorney and former federal prosecutor Wayne A. Budd, national AAA Board Chairman and board member at AAA Southern New England. “Issues affecting the motoring and traveling public are of great interest to AAA, and we welcome Governor Patrick’s insights and views on these issues.”
Governor Patrick discussed the value of public-private partnerships such as the one that has allowed six AAA offices to offer select Registry of Motor Vehicles services.
“It has really not just relieved the pressure on our Registry of Motor Vehicles, but frankly, it has brought a more effective service to people in a greater range of convenient locations,” Patrick said. “It has made a difference, and it has helped in a time of stress on the budget.”
Governor Patrick’s plans for improving roads and bridges and developing a long-term strategic plan for transportation improvements in the Commonwealth won enthusiastic support and praise from AAA board members attending the meeting.
“Traffic safety and transportation-related advocacy are a major part of AAA’s national strategic focus, “ said Mark A. Shaw, AAA Southern New England President and CEO and national AAA Board member. “We have worked with the Patrick administration on several matters of interest to our Massachusetts members, and plan for more collaboration in the future.”
On the issue of a primary seatbelt law, for which AAA has long advocated, the Governor said the medical toll of unbelted crashes upsets him. The auto club plans to renew its campaign for a primary seatbelt law in the next legislative session.
March 27th, 2012 by admin
(WASHINGTON, March 26, 2012) Crude oil prices were largely flat to begin the week, as West Texas Intermediate (WTI) prices increased 16 cents per barrel to settle at $107.03 at the close of formal trading on the NYMEX. This marks a $1.06 week-over-week decrease from the settlement price to begin last week.
Crude futures saw some upward pressure today following comments by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke that interest rates would remain low, which is seen as positive for U.S. equities but suggests weakness in the U.S. dollar. Crude oil is priced in dollars and becomes relatively more expensive as the currency value decreases, as would be expected with low interest rates. Oil futures subsequently become a more attractive investment, exerting upward pressure on prices, as was the case Wednesday.
WTI crude oil prices alternated gains and losses each day last week, but ultimately finished the week down $1.22 per barrel from Monday’s settlement.
On Thursday, AAA had the opportunity to sit down with President Obama, following his speech on energy issues in Cushing, Oklahoma, to discuss the topic of rising oil and gasoline prices. The President outlined the two key issues that have pressured prices higher this year: tensions with Iran and increasing global demand for crude oil. Bearish developments for oil prices on both of these issues last week were seen as the primary stories pressuring prices lower. Complete details of the AAA’s discussion with President Obama can be found on the AAA Newsroom.
As President Obama noted to AAA, uncertainty in the Middle East and Iran is “adding a $20 or $30 [per barrel] premium to oil prices.” Some of this “risk premium” was alleviated on Tuesday as Kuwait and Iran issued assurances that the Strait of Hormuz, through which 20 percent of the world’s oil flows, would remain open, and Saudi Arabia stated that it was prepared to increase production along with their expressed preference for cheaper global prices. While news late in the week confirmed that Iranian exports have decreased by some 300,000 barrels per day this month — following increased sanctions imposed by western governments — this was largely expected and did not raise enough of a supply concern to make up for early week declines in prices.
President Obama also highlighted the increasing demand from countries like China and India. While economic growth in these countries is expected to pressure global demand for oil higher, manufacturing data released last Thursday showed signs that Chinese economic growth may be slowing. Slowing global economies would be expected to demand less crude oil, which places downward pressure on futures prices, as was the case last week.
While WTI crude oil prices have declined slightly, gasoline prices across the United States continue to rise. The current national average price for a gallon of regular self-serve gasoline is $3.90. This price is six cents more expensive than one week ago, 27 cents more expensive than one month ago, and 32 cents more expensive than one year ago. The national average price at the pump has now risen for 18 consecutive days and has only declined on three of the past 60 days.
Across the country drivers continue to pay very different prices depending on where they live. Motorists in eight states and the District of Columbia currently pay an average of more than $4.00 per gallon: Alaska, California, Connecticut, D.C., Hawaii, Illinois, New York, Oregon, and Washington State. While the lowest gas prices in the country are still found in Wyoming ($3.48) and Montana ($3.62), the gap between prices in these states and those found in some parts of the southeastern U.S. continues to narrow. In addition to these regional disparities, more expensive reformulated gasoline (RFG) has meant that many metropolitan areas are seeing gas prices increasing more rapidly than in other parts of the same state. While no state average has set a new all-time record high this year, four metropolitan areas tracked on the AAA Fuel Gauge Report are currently paying all-time high prices at the pump: Hilo, HI – $4.71; Metropolitan Chicago – $4.51; Chicago (city) – $4.67; and Milwaukee-Waukesha, WI – $4.20.
March 23rd, 2012 by admin
Washington, D.C., (March 23, 2012) – With prices climbing more than 60 cents a gallon since January 1, President Barack Obama discussed energy and rising gas prices—a top-of-mind issue for motorists across the country including AAA’s more than 53 million members—in a meeting with AAA yesterday.
Following his speech on energy issues in Cushing, Oklahoma, the President spoke to a representative of the nation’s largest auto club that serves one-in-four American households.
As an advocate of motorists nationwide, AAA asked the President questions likely to be foremost in the minds of drivers feeling the pain at the pump.
When asked by AAA to comment on the frustration and confusion that U.S motorists are experiencing with rising gas prices, the President said, “I understand what folks are going through because it wasn’t that long ago that I was having to fill up my gas tank and drive to work, shuttle the kids back and forth to school or events. It takes a big bite out of folks’ paychecks.” The President went on to say that the U.S. has experienced cyclical gas prices for decades and stressed the importance of America having more control over its own energy security.
AAA also inquired about the role of the President in addressing prices at the pump given the global forces and political tensions abroad that drive the oil and energy markets. The President elaborated on points from his earlier speech, saying, “The most important thing I can do as the President is not to simply focus on tomorrow. It’s focusing on getting America properly aimed toward our goal of continuing to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.” The President also highlighted the importance of maintaining growth and productivity while further reducing U.S. oil consumption. Mr. Obama noted that pressure on oil prices in the coming two decades will be difficult to reverse.
Even as a 110-year old organization whose origins date to the earliest days of the motor vehicle, AAA continues to explore new vehicle technologies to offer enhanced and improved services to members. Responding to member interest, AAA began testing a roadside service vehicle capable of providing charging assistance to electric vehicles.
As to public acceptance of new technologies, the President said, “People need to feel confident that when they get into an electric car they’re not going to get stuck. To the extent that we start having both more efficient batteries and distribution capacity, people can feel confident that they’re never going to get stuck, or at least not any more stuck than they do when they forget to fill up and then call AAA.”
The President also shared insight about the role of alternative-fuel vehicles as a possible solution to current high fuel costs. Mr. Obama noted that fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks have doubled, which will result in fewer trips to the gas station and a savings for the average family of about $8,000 over the life of the car. As to the future, Mr. Obama is optimistic. “If we unleash American creativity, if we properly incentivize people to think about fuel economy as part of overall design, Americans can make great cars.”
While Mr. Obama is no longer able to do his own driving, AAA couldn’t pass up the opportunity to ask President Obama about his first car. Noting he had been a AAA member for years , he said, “I have to confess, my first car was my grandfather’s car, which was a Ford Granada. It rattled and it shook, and I don’t think the girls were particularly impressed when I came to pick them up in a Ford Granada. But you know what? It moved, and so I have fond memories of the fact that it got me to where I needed to go.”
AAA is a non-partisan organization providing unbiased reporting of gas prices through its popular weekly Fuel Gauge Report, and supports the national dialogue on gas prices by offering objective and accurate perspective to the media and motorists year-round.
As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 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 EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA (Cushing, Oklahoma – March 22, 2012)
President Obama sat for an exclusive interview with Yolanda Cade, AAA’s managing director of public relations, in Cushing, Oklahoma to speak directly to AAA’s 53 million members on the topic of high gasoline prices.
AAA: As you know, AAA proudly serves 53 million members, many of them, like most Americans are confused and they’re frustrated about the rising gas prices. So what would you say to drivers that are feeling that pain in the pocketbook when they’re filling up at the pump?
President Obama: Well, first of all, I understand what folks are going through, because it wasn’t that long ago that I was having to fill up my gas tank and drive to work, shuttle the kids back and forth to school and their events, and it takes a big bite out of folks’ paychecks. The challenge is that we’ve been going through this kind of cycle of ups and downs in gas prices for decades now. We don’t have the control over our own energy security the way we need to. And so what we talked about today was an all of the above strategy that involves higher oil production here in the United States but also involves making our cars more fuel efficient, expanding biofuels, using all the resources we can to try to lessen our demand for foreign oil, which makes us less vulnerable to price spikes over the long term.
Right now the key thing that is driving higher gas prices is actually the world’s oil markets and uncertainty about what’s going on in Iran and the Middle East, and that’s adding a $20 or $30 premium to oil prices, and that affects obviously gas prices. What’s also driving it, and this is something that’s not going to reverse, is increasing demand in countries like China and India. In 2010, for example China added 10 million cars just in that one year. So as more and more people around the world see their standards of living rising, they purchase cars, they have demand for oil, that creates a greater demand worldwide and that raises the price. That’s why we’ve got to make sure that we don’t just focus on production. We’ve also got to focus on fuel efficiency; we’ve also got to focus on alternatives. If we don’t, we’re going to continue to be subject to these kinds of price spikes anytime something happens around the world.
AAA: And just to pick up on that thread, talking about global forces – and you alluded to that today – given the global forces that are driving the oil and energy markets, what is the role of the President, if any, in addressing the price of gasoline that Americans are paying at the pump?
President Obama: Well, there are a couple of things that we can do right now. There are some bottlenecks in distribution that we’re trying to impact, and building this pipeline from Cushing down to the Gulf is an example of where you get more oil to refineries faster that can hopefully be distributed more efficiently across the country. We are looking at making sure that we’re enforcing laws preventing illegal speculation in the oil markets. That can have some modest impact potentially, if something is going on there that shouldn’t be going on. But the most important thing I can do as a President is not to simply focus on tomorrow; it’s focusing on getting America properly aiming towards our goal of continuing to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. And we’ve had success over the last three years, we’ve actually seen every year our oil imports decline even as we climbed out of a recession so the economy was growing. We’ve now doubled fuel efficiency standards on cars and trucks, and by the middle of the next decade we can expect the average car to be getting 55 miles per gallon. And that’s going to mean you only take one trip to the gas station instead of two, and could end up saving the average family about $8,000 during the life of their car. That would obviously be a big help. So, those are the kinds of strategies that I have the most control over, not the day-to-day spikes in the oil market.
AAA: And you talked about the economy, and if I can follow up on that there are signs that the American economy is improving. Do you have any concerns that the rising gas prices may at some point stifle the recovery?
President Obama: Well we saw that happen last year, where consumer confidence was building and then suddenly pulled back sharply. People are very sensitive to oil prices. The one thing that I think is important for us to remind voters, and I know this is a small consolation, but the payroll tax cut that we passed at the beginning of this year and then we’ve now extended to the end of the year, saves the average family about $1,000 a year. And that is helping to buffer some of these rising gas costs. So some of this we anticipated, and we said to ourselves: that’s part of the reason why we’ve got to make sure we continue to extend this tax cut at least through the end of this year so that we don’t see as much of an impact on what people actually have in their pockets as there would have been if they were socked with both a tax increase and rising gas prices at the same time.
AAA: Mr. President, you’ve advocated increased fuel economy and you talked about the fact that it is really an integral part of the solution to our overall energy needs. And then today we heard you talk about the importance of infrastructure and continued innovation. But speaking of balance: how do you effectively balance fuel efficiency and ensure there is appropriate infrastructure and at the same time preserve consumer vehicle choice?
President Obama: Well look, one of the great things we’ve been doing with the auto industry over the last couple of years is not only are we producing more fuel efficient cars, but they’re better cars, more attractive cars, and safer cars. What we’ve been arguing consistently is that if we unleash American creativity, design, we properly incentivize people to think about fuel economy as part of overall design, Americans can make great cars. And if you look at the cars that are being built in Detroit right now, they’re getting more gas mileage, they’re safer than they were – they’re not compromising on styling – and part of that is everything from figuring out the aerodynamics, to tire drag, to air conditioning systems that are more efficient. All those things, all those technological advances, are making a difference and we are continuing to spur advanced technology improvements in our auto vehicles. That includes conventional cars, but it also includes electric and hybrid cars.
So, I’ll give you a small example. We’ve recently provided a $4 million grant to a company that it appears may have gotten a breakthrough on battery technology that could actually reduce the cost and expand the power of the batteries that are used in electric cars two-fold. That could bring down the price point. That could make the capacity to run further on a single charge much greater. It could reduce the amount of room that a battery takes up in a car. So all of that could make a huge difference in terms of us and Detroit being able to produce the very best, most fuel efficient cars in the world.
AAA: And in anticipation of that, at AAA, we’re actually pilot testing delivering energy at the roadside, delivering an electric charge to electric vehicles. And speaking of American creativity and design ingenuity in electric vehicles, you said that when you leave office, that you will buy and drive a Chevy Volt. So what role then do you think that electric vehicles and other alternative vehicles help in preventing the kind of gas price fluctuations that we’re now seeing? What role do you think they’ll play in the future? Do you think they’ll play an integral role?
President Obama: Look, you identified the big challenge. That is, people need to feel confident that when they get into an electric car that they’re not going to get stuck because of range anxiety – and so to the extent that we start having both more efficient batteries but also distribution capacity, so that people feel confident that they’re never going to get stuck, or at least not any more stuck than they do when they forget to fill up and then they call AAA. Then I think that we can see a substantial expansion in the use of electric vehicles over the future, and anything that we’re doing to reduce oil consumption, while maintaining our growth and productivity, that’s all good. Because frankly, the pressure on oil prices to go up over the coming two decades is going to be very difficult to reverse. You’ve got hundreds-of-millions of people in China, hundreds-of-millions of people in India, billions of people around the world, who want the same stuff we’ve got. They aspire to the same standard of living and having a car as we do. Demand is going to outstrip supply. We’ve got to come up with new technologies. That’s what we’re going to be working on.
AAA: Finally, Mr. President, and we’ve asked this of others in your Administration, tell us, what was your first car and do you have any fond memories of your driving experience that you’d like to share with us?
President Obama: Well, first of all, I was a AAA member for years, up until they [Secret Service] told me I couldn’t drive anymore. But I have to confess; my first car was my grandfather’s car, which was a Ford Granada. Now Ford is doing great now. The Ford Granada was not the peak of Detroit engineering. It rattled and it shook, and I don’t think the girls were particularly impressed when I came to pick them up in a Ford Granada. But you know what? It moved and so I have fond memories of the fact that it got me to where I needed to go. That’s about all I can say about the Ford Granada.
AAA: Thank you, Mr. President, on behalf of our 53 million members.
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March 13th, 2012 by admin
Pump prices switch course and ascend again
(WASHINGTON, D.C., March 12, 2012) Crude oil prices turned lower today as bearish international economic news weighed on markets. Most notably, over the weekend, China reported an increased trade deficit and a slowing of export growth, both adding to concerns of an overall slowing of the Chinese economy. China is the world’s second largest oil consuming country, behind the United States. A slowing Chinese economy would be expected to consume less crude oil and products, which puts downward pressure on global prices.
Additionally, crude oil futures are priced in U.S. dollars. When economies weaken overseas, the dollar strengthens and the price of oil becomes relatively more expensive. Oil futures subsequently become a less attractive investment, which exerts downward pressure on prices, as was the case today.
At the close of today’s formal trading on the NYMEX, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) prices were down $1.06 per barrel to settle at $106.34.
Crude oil prices declined during the first part of last week, following reports of easing geopolitical tensions as the U.S. and other countries offered to resume negotiations with Tehran over the Iranian nuclear program. Since December of last year, mounting tensions between Iran and western countries and the associated increased uncertainty of future global crude supply has kept upward pressure on oil prices. This supply concern was further counteracted early last week by a renewed focus on demand worries stemming from sovereign debt issues in the Euro zone. As mentioned above, economic weakness overseas would be expected to drive crude prices lower.
These early week losses were reversed by settlement on Friday, as reports surfaced that the European Union was nearing a positive resolution to the Greek sovereign debt crisis that has weighed on the European economy. The successful reclassification of Greek debt on Friday validated these reports, and combined with positive U.S. jobs numbers, erased the early week losses and propelled crude to back toward its high for the year ($109.77 per barrel on February 24). WTI crude oil settled the week at $107.40 per barrel.
While positive economic news both domestically and overseas pressured oil prices higher last week, gasoline demand continued to be dismal. Last Wednesday’s weekly Department of Energy report measured demand for the week prior at just 8.262 million barrels per day — approximately 930,000 barrels or more than 11% below the same week in 2011. Analysts often look to the four-week average demand for a more accurate comparison versus years prior. Last week this four-week figure was reported at 8.355 million barrels per day. To provide some context, five of the previous six years had seen an average demand at 9 million barrels or more for the same period, and this most recent report marked the lowest figure since March 2001.
Despite this anemic demand, gasoline prices continue to rise as high crude prices, future supply concerns, and signs of economic recovery keep upward pressure on RBOB (wholesale) gasoline futures. The extent of this upward pressure can be seen when considering the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s (CFTC) Friday report, which provides an indicator of investors’ positions in the market. Last week’s report set yet another record net long bias (contracts speculating that prices will go higher, minus those speculating they’ll go lower) at 95,786 contracts. Each contract is for 1,000 barrels of future RBOB gasoline.
It’s been noted in the AAA Fuel Gauge Report for several weeks, but market historians have reminded that there was a similar heavy long bias for WTI futures last March just before a sharp move lower as traders became worried that the market was overbought.
As crude oil and wholesale gasoline prices continue to move higher, motorists across the country face increased rising gas prices at the pump. The current national average price for a gallon of regular self-serve gasoline is $3.80. This price is three cents more expensive than one week ago, 29 cents more expensive than one month ago, and 24 cents more expensive than one year ago.
The national average price at the pump declined last Tuesday, snapping a streak of 39 consecutive days without a decrease during which time prices had increased 39 cents. While this slide continued both Wednesday and Thursday, the combined decrease at the pump was only slightly more than half a penny. The brief respite for drivers ended on Friday as prices again turned higher and have risen each day since — increasing four cents in four days.
Across the country drivers continue to pay very different prices depending on where they live. Motorists in Hawaii ($4.44), California ($4.36), and Alaska ($4.17) pay the highest average prices in the country, while those in Wyoming ($3.30) and Colorado ($3.42) pay the lowest.
March 8th, 2012 by admin
Speeding remains a significant safety threat on U.S. roadways
(WASHINGTON, March 8, 2012) Speeding remains a significant safety threat on U.S. roadways—contributing to nearly one-third of all traffic deaths each year – and while motorists frequently list aggressive driving as a top safety concern, many still admit to driving well over posted speed limits. Speeding has been commonplace on our roadways for decades and is deeply ingrained in our driving culture, despite resulting in thousands of needless deaths every year.
AAA hopes today’s report from the Governors Highway Safety Association will prompt state and federal policymakers to devote more attention to these challenges. To address speeding, AAA supports high visibility enforcement campaigns and targeted enforcement in school zones and other critical safety locations. AAA also supports aggressive driving statutes that carry significant penalties for drivers who endanger themselves, other motorists, pedestrians, and other road users. AAA urges policymakers and government officials to focus needed resources on addressing this dangerous behavior. And we, as motorists, need to remember that it’s more important to get somewhere safely than to get there a minute or two sooner.