Posts Tagged ‘Yolanda Cade’

Michael GreenMore than Two Out of Three Drivers Use Cell Phone Despite Crash Risk

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Dec. 11, 2013) – High school-aged teens report using their phones or texting while driving substantially less often than adults do, according to new research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.  While the public often cites teens as being the most common offenders, a recent survey found that adult drivers ages 25-39 were the most likely to admit engaging in these risky behaviors behind the wheel.

Additional Resources

“It’s noteworthy that the young novice drivers are using their phones while driving less than older drivers since, given their inexperience, they are especially susceptible to distracted driving crashes,” said Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “At the same time, it is discouraging that cell phone usage picks up when drivers gain more experience, as using a phone can lead to dangerous distractions behind the wheel.”

Two out of three drivers reported using a cell while driving within the past month. Forty-three percent of adults ages 25-39 reported doing so fairly often or regularly while driving, compared to only 20 percent of teens.  Motorists age 60 and up were the least likely to report using a phone.

Age

Reported Using Phone

While Driving

Reported Using Phone

Fairly Often / Regularly While Driving

16-18

58 percent

20 percent

19-24

72 percent

27 percent

25-39

82 percent

43 percent

40-59

72 percent

30 percent

60-74

51 percent

15 percent

75+

31 percent

7 percent

Total

67 percent

28 percent

“Using your phone while driving may seem safe, but it roughly quadruples your risk of being in a crash according to previous research,” said Jake Nelson, AAA director of traffic safety advocacy and research. “None of us is immune from the dangers of distracted driving. The best advice is to hang up and drive.”

More than one-in-four motorists reported sending a text or email while driving within the past month. Adults ages 25-39 reported texting and driving most frequently, while those age 60 and up reported doing it the least.

Age

Reporting Sending Text or Email

While Driving

Reported Sending Text or Email

Fairly Often / Regularly While Driving

16-18

31 percent

7 percent

19-24

42 percent

11 percent

25-39

45 percent

10 percent

40-59

24 percent

4 percent

60-74

7 percent

2 percent

75+

1 percent

1 percent

Total

26 percent

6 percent

Nearly nine-in-ten (88 percent) motorists believe distracted driving is a bigger problem now than it was three years ago. About 89 percent believe that other drivers talking on a cell phone while driving is a serious threat to their personal safety, while nearly all (96 percent) believe that others texting or emailing while behind the wheel is a serious threat.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, one out of every ten fatal crashes involves distraction, resulting in more than 3,000 deaths per year, although experts agree the numbers are likely underestimated. Previous research shows that hands-free cell phones offer no significant safety benefits over handheld phones – hands-free is not risk-free.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety collected the data as part of the 2013 Traffic Safety Culture Index. The data are from a sample of 2,325 licensed drivers, ages 16 and older, who reported driving in the past 30 days.

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.

Nancy White

Originally released June 12, 2013

New research reveals that voice-activated in-car technologies dangerously undermine driver attention

Additional Resources

WASHINGTON, D.C., – Hands-free technologies might make it easier for motorists to text, talk on the phone, or even use Facebook while they drive, but new findings from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety show dangerous mental distractions exist even when drivers keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road.  The research found that as mental workload and distractions increase reaction time slows, brain function is compromised, drivers scan the road less and miss visual cues, potentially resulting in drivers not seeing items right in front of them including stop signs and pedestrians. This is the most comprehensive study of its kind to look at the mental distraction of drivers and arms AAA with evidence to appeal to the public to not use these voice-to-text features while their vehicle is in motion.

With a predicted five-fold increase in infotainment systems in new vehicles by 2018, AAA is calling for action as result of this landmark research. “There is a looming public safety crisis ahead with the future proliferation of these in-vehicle technologies,” said AAA President and CEO Robert L. Darbelnet. “It’s time to consider limiting new and potentially dangerous mental  distractions built into cars, particularly with the common public misperception that hands-free means risk-free.”

Cognitive distraction expert Dr. David Strayer and his research team at the University of Utah measured brainwaves, eye movement and other metrics to assess what happens to drivers’ mental workload when they attempt to do multiple things at once, building upon decades of research in the aerospace and automotive industries. The research included:

  • Cameras mounted inside an instrumented car to track eye and head movement of drivers.
  • A Detection-Response-Task device known as the “DRT” was used to record driver reaction time in response to triggers of red and green lights added to their field of vision.
  • A special electroencephalographic (EEG)-configured skull cap was used to chart participants’ brain activity so that researchers could determine mental workload.

Using established research protocols borrowed from aviation psychology and a variety of performance metrics, drivers engaged in common tasks, from listening to an audio book or talking on the phone to listening and responding to voice-activated emails while behind the wheel. Researchers used the results to rate the levels of mental distraction drivers experienced while performing each of the tasks. Similar to the Saffir-Simpson scale used for hurricanes, the levels of mental distraction are represented on a scale:

  • Tasks such as listening to the radio ranked as a category “1” level of distraction or a minimal risk.
  • Talking on a cell-phone, both handheld and hands-free, resulted in a “2” or a moderate risk.
  • Listening and responding to in-vehicle, voice-activated email features increased mental workload and distraction levels of the drivers to a “3” rating or one of extensive risk.

“These findings reinforce previous research that hands-free is not risk-free,” said AAA Foundation President and CEO Peter Kissinger. “Increased mental workload and cognitive distractions can lead to a type of tunnel vision or inattention blindness where motorists don’t see potential hazards right in front of them.” Based on this research, AAA urges the automotive and electronics industries to join us in exploring:

  • Limiting use of voice-activated technology to core driving-related activities such as climate control, windshield wipers and cruise control, and to ensure these applications do not lead to increased safety risk due to mental distraction while the car is moving.
  • Disabling certain functionalities of voice-to-text technologies such as using social media or interacting with e-mail and text messages so that they are inoperable while the vehicle is in motion.
  • Educating vehicle owners and mobile device users about the responsible use and safety risks for in-vehicle technologies.

AAA also is using the findings to promote dialogue with policy makers, safety advocates and industry to ensure that these emerging in-vehicle technologies won’t lead to unintentional compromises in public safety.  As part of this effort, AAA has already met with safety advocates and provided copies of the report to CEOs of all major U.S. automakers.

“This study constitutes the most in-depth analysis to date of mental distractions behind the wheel.  AAA is hopeful that it will serve as a stepping stone toward working in collaboration with automakers to promote our shared goal of improving safety for all drivers,” said Darbelnet. “Specifically, these increasingly common voice-driven, in-vehicle technologies should be limited to use for just core driving tasks unless the activity results in no significant driver distraction.”

To view the full Cognitive Distraction in the Vehicle report, the AAA Foundation’s Research Compendium on Cognitive Distraction or AAA’s Distracted Driving Fact Sheet, visit NewsRoom.AAA.com.

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 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.

 

Michael Green Contact Tile(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.”

Michael Green Contact Tile(WASHINGTON, March 21, 2013)

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.”

Michael Green Contact Tile(WASHINGTON, March 19, 2013) Statement by AAA President & CEO Robert L. Darbelnet:

“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.”

Michael Green Contact Tile(WASHINGTON, February 12, 2013)

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.”

(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.”

(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.

AAA Fuel Gauge Report | March 26, 2012

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.

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.

Additional Resources

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.

 

Full Transcript:

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.

 

Hi Res Hi Res
Lo Res Lo Res

Podcasts

B-Roll

YouTube Videos

AAA Senior Driver Expos

NewsRoom Video Gallery

Media: Find and Download AAA Videos and B Roll.