Archive for the ‘Auto’ Category

AAA finds only 12% of drivers would feel safe riding in a car that drives itself

ORLANDO, Fla. (Mar. 5, 2020) –A new AAA survey on automated vehicles reveals that only one in ten drivers (12%) would trust riding in a self-driving car. Even more Americans – 28% – don’t know how they feel about the technology, signaling consumers are stuck in neutral on the road to accepting self-driving cars. AAA believes consumer sentiment of automated vehicles will be driven by tangible information on key issues and, equally important, quality education and experience. 

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Consumers told AAA that they have a desire to see more news stories or public information on key issues surrounding self-driving vehicles like safety and liability:

  • Six in ten (57%) Americans say they would like to have a clear understanding of who will be legally responsible in the event of a crash with a self-driving vehicle.
  • Half (51%) are interested about laws to make sure self-driving cars are safe.
  • Half (49%) want to know how vulnerable they will be to hackers.

“Consumers have made it clear what it will take to overcome their doubts – consistent and transparent information – which will help make them feel safer about the idea of riding in a self-driving car,” said Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering and Industry Relations. “AAA’s automated vehicle survey tell us when people have the opportunity to take back control or even build their understanding of how this technology works, they are much more likely to embrace it.”

Americans specifically voiced their opinion on what would make them feel safer about self-driving cars. Seven in ten (72%) U.S. adults would feel safer riding in a self-driving car if they had the ability to take over control if something goes wrong. A similar proportion (69%) would feel safer if there was a human backup driver. Half (47%) would feel safer knowing the self-driving car has passed rigorous testing and inspections. Four in ten (42%) would feel safer after seeing or experiencing a demonstration prior to getting into a self-driving car.

“Knowing how people truly feel about self-driving cars will help the industry to identify the steps needed to move consumers towards greater acceptance,” continued Brannon.

Automated vehicles are still decades away from hitting the roads, however AAA conducts research like this study and others to help inform and encourage the industry, media and policymakers to find ways to help consumers connect better with advanced vehicle technology.

Methodology

Due to a change in methodology in 2020, this year’s survey results are not directly comparable to results from prior years. This survey was conducted January 17 – 19, 2020, using a probability-based panel designed to be representative of the U.S. household population overall. The panel provides sample coverage of approximately 97% of the U.S. household population. Most surveys were completed online; consumers without internet access were surveyed over the phone. A total of 1,301 interviews were completed among U.S. adults, 18 years of age or older. The margin of error for the study overall is 4% at the 95% confidence level. Smaller subgroups have larger error margins.

About AAA

AAA provides more than 60 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 34 motor clubs and nearly 1,000 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. To join, visit AAA.com.

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New study pulls back the curtain on the experience of going green and costs of ownership

ORLANDO, Fla. (Jan. 22, 2020) – New research from AAA finds that over five years and 75,000 miles of driving, the annual cost of owning a new compact electric vehicle is only slightly more expensive – about $600 annually – than its gas-powered counterpart. The study also revealed that the experience of owning an electric vehicle eases one of the biggest fears associated with these cars – range anxiety. 

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According to AAA’s survey, prior to owning an electric vehicle, a majority of owners (91%) said that they had at least one concern – things like insufficient range, implications for long-distance travel and finding a place to charge. Post purchase, many of these worries disappeared. AAA believes that if consumers have a better understanding of the real cost and experience of owning an electric vehicle, then the gap between expressed interest and adoption will begin to close.

“Although 40 million Americans have shown interest in buying electric for their next car, actual adoption is happening at a much slower rate,” said Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering and Industry Relations. “AAA wanted to understand what kind of impact the experience of owning an electric vehicle has on perception of these cars and maybe more importantly, if given the chance would consumers choose to go green again.”

AAA’s survey of electric vehicle owners, 71% of whom had not previously owned an electric car, revealed some interesting results:

  • The majority (96%) say they would buy or lease another electric vehicle the next time they were in the market for a new car.
  • Two in five (43%) say they drive more now than when they owned a gas-powered car. On average, electric vehicle owners drive 39 miles per day.
  • Three quarters (78%) also have a gas-powered car in the household, yet they report doing a majority of their driving (87%) in their electric vehicle.

Perhaps the most surprising result of the survey was the impact ownership has on commonly-held fears about electric vehicles, particularly those that have deterred consumers from making the leap to green. Previous AAA research has found that the top two reasons why Americans shy away from electric vehicles are not enough places to charge (58%) and the fear that they will run out of charge while driving (57%). Almost all owners surveyed (95%) report never having run out of a charge while driving and on average, they do three fourths (75%) of their charging at home. Likely as a result, those who were originally concerned about insufficient range said they became less or no longer concerned post-purchase (77%).

“Range anxiety has been synonymous with electric vehicles from the beginning,” said Brannon. “Hearing firsthand from owners that this is no longer a worry may change the mind of those who have otherwise been skeptical to the idea of owning an electric vehicle.”

Employing the same methodology used for its annual Your Driving Costs study, AAA calculated the costs for owning a new compact electric vehicle as compared to that of its gas-powered counterpart. Although the study found that overall cost of electric vehicle ownership is 8% more per year, individual categories such as fuel and maintenance/repair are lower.

  • Fuel – the electricity required to drive 15,000 miles per year in a compact electric vehicle costs an average of  $546, while the amount of gas required to drive the same distance costs $1,255 (or 130%) more.
  • Maintenance/Repair/Tires – electric vehicles do not require as much maintenance as gas-powered ones since they don’t need oil changes or air-filter replacements. If maintained according to the automakers’ recommendations, electric vehicles cost $330 less than a gas-powered car, a total of $949/annually.

Vehicle ownership, whether electric or gas-powered, is a personal choice that should take many factors into consideration. For consumers who are interested in electric vehicles, AAA recommends visiting a dealership, test driving one and asking as many questions as possible to make an informed decision.

Methodology

The electric vehicle and internal combustion engine driving costs in this study were established using the proprietary methodology employed for AAA’s Your Driving Costs (YDC) project. The 2019 electric vehicle models selected for this study were:  Chevrolet Bolt (LT), Hyundai Ionic Electric (Base), Kia Soul EV (+), Nissan Leaf (SV) and Volkswagen eGolf (SE). The 2019 internal combustion engine vehicles selected for the comparison were:  Chevrolet Cruze (LS), Honda Civic (LX), Hyundai Elantra (SE), Nissan Sentra (SV) and Toyota Corolla (SE). This methodology models the purchase of a new vehicle for personal use over a period of five years and 75,000 miles. A copy of the 2019 AAA Your Driving Costs brochure with the latest study results is available at https://bit.ly/35I5GG8.

The survey of electric vehicle owners was conducted using a consumer panel maintained by a third-party electric vehicle research firm. The online panel consists of more than 40,000 electric vehicles owners, weighted to balance drivers by vehicle type, make and model. In total, 1,090 surveys with plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) owners were completed during a 24 hour period on October 1, 2019.

About AAA

AAA provides more than 60 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 34 motor clubs and nearly 1,100 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. To join, visit AAA.com.

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A new survey from AAA found that this holiday season, an estimated 84 million (33%) Americans plan to purchase a real Christmas tree and will be faced with the task of getting it home safely. Just like moving furniture, appliances or other large objects, transporting a tree is no different. If not properly secured, a tree can cause vehicle damage such as scratched paint, torn door seals or distorted window frames. Even worse, it could fly off or out of the vehicle and become a danger to other drivers. AAA’s survey revealed that 44% of Americans who plan to purchase a real Christmas tree will transport the tree using unsafe methods. This includes 20% who will tie the tree to the roof of their vehicle without using a roof rack and 24% who plan to place the tree in the bed of their pickup truck unsecured. Among those planning to purchase a live Christmas tree this year, 16% have previously experienced a Christmas tree falling off or out of their vehicle during transport. Previous research from AAA found that road debris caused more than 200,000 crashes during a four-year period, resulting in approximately 39,000 injuries and 500 deaths.

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Transporting a real Christmas tree home is easy as long as you have the right tools and follow AAA’s simple tips:

  • Before heading out to buy a real Christmas tree, make sure to bring strong rope or nylon ratchet straps, an old blanket, gloves and of course – the right vehicle. One with a roof rack is ideal but a pickup truck, SUV, van or minivan can work just as well.
  • Once you’ve found the perfect tree, have the lot wrap it in netting before loading it. Loose branches can also be secured with rope or twine to help protect the tree from damage.
  • Prior to loading the tree, cover the roof with an old blanket to prevent scratches to the paint and protect the car from any damage.
  • Place the tree on the roof rack or in the bed of the truck with the trunk facing the front of the car. If the vehicle does not have a roof rack and is a SUV, CUV, van or minivan – place the tree inside. If not, rent or borrow a pickup truck, a vehicle with a roof rack or one that is large enough to accommodate the tree inside.
  • Secure the tree at its bottom, center and top using strong rope or nylon ratchet straps. Avoid using the twine offered by many tree lots. Use fixed vehicle tie-down points and loop the rope or strap around the tree trunk above a branch to prevent any side-to-side or front-to-rear movement.
  • Once tied down, give the tree several strong tugs from various angles to make sure it is secured in place and will not come loose.
  • Drive slowly and take back roads if possible. Higher speeds can create significant airflow that can damage your tree or challenge even the best tie-down methods.
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(November 20, 2019) – As leaders in consumer advocacy, traffic safety and industry advice, four organizations – AAA, Consumer Reports, J.D. Power and the National Safety Council – have come together to adopt standardized naming for advanced driver assistance technology in an effort to reduce confusion. To help educate consumers on the benefits, limitations and proper use of these technologies, the four organizations are calling on all safety organizations, automakers and journalists covering the automotive industry to join them in adopting these terms.

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Automotive technology continues to evolve quickly with 93% of new vehicles offering at least one advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) feature. Earlier this year, AAA research found that consumers are faced with as many as 20 names for a single ADAS feature, varying by vehicle manufacturer. This can cause confusion. And while the technology has the potential to improve safety and save lives, the terminology often seems to prioritize marketing over clarity.

As a result, the four organizations have agreed on standardized naming that is simple, specific and based on system functionality. It is believed that, by adopting common terminology across systems, consumers will have a better understanding that this technology is intended to assist and not replace an engaged driver. These terms are not meant to replace automotive manufacturers’ proprietary system or package names; rather, they are meant to achieve clearer and consistent information on window stickers, owner’s manuals and other marketing materials on generic system components.

At this time, five categories have been created to group technology by type. The naming list will be continually refined as these organizations work with stakeholders and policymakers and as new systems come to market. For details on the full list, click here.

About AAA

AAA provides more than 60 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 34 motor clubs and nearly 1,000 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. To join, visit AAA.com.

About Consumer Reports

Consumer Reports is an independent, nonprofit membership organization that works side by side with consumers to create a fairer, safer, and healthier world. For more than 80 years, CR has provided evidence-based product testing and ratings, rigorous research, hard-hitting investigative journalism, public education, and steadfast policy action on behalf of consumers’ interests. Unconstrained by advertising or other commercial influences, CR has exposed landmark public health and safety issues and strives to be a catalyst for pro-consumer changes in the marketplace. From championing responsible auto safety standards, to winning food and water protections, to enhancing healthcare quality, to fighting back against predatory lenders in the financial markets, Consumer Reports has always been on the front lines, raising the voices of consumers.

About J.D. Power

J.D. Power is a global leader in consumer insights, advisory services and data and analytics. These capabilities enable J.D. Power to help its clients drive customer satisfaction, growth and profitability. Established in 1968, J.D. Power has offices serving North America, South America, Asia Pacific and Europe.

About the National Safety Council

The National Safety Council (nsc.org) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to eliminate preventable deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road through leadership, research, education and advocacy. Founded in 1913 and chartered by Congress, NSC advances this mission by partnering with businesses, government agencies, elected officials and the public in areas where we can make the most impact.

 

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Study finds safety systems fail at night when the majority of pedestrian vehicle fatalities occur

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ORLANDO, Fla. (Oct. 3, 2019) – New research from AAA reveals that automatic emergency braking systems with pedestrian detection perform inconsistently, and proved to be completely ineffective at night. An alarming result, considering 75% of pedestrian fatalities occur after dark. The systems were also challenged by real-world situations, like a vehicle turning right into the path of an adult. AAA’s testing found that in this simulated scenario, the systems did not react at all, colliding with the adult pedestrian target every time. For the safety of everyone on the road, AAA supports the continued development of pedestrian detection systems, specifically when it comes to improving functionality at night and in circumstances where drivers are most likely to encounter pedestrians.

On average, nearly 6,000 pedestrians lose their lives each year, accounting for 16% of all traffic deaths, a percentage that has steadily grown since 2010.

“Pedestrian fatalities are on the rise, proving how important the safety impact of these systems could be when further developed,” said Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering and Industry Relations. “But, our research found that current systems are far from perfect and still require an engaged driver behind the wheel.”

While time of day and location are contributing factors to pedestrian fatalities, vehicle speed also plays a major role. Previous research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that pedestrians are at greater risk for severe injury or death the faster a car is traveling at the time of impact. For example, a pedestrian hit by a vehicle traveling at 20 mph has an 18% risk of severe injury or death. Increase that by just 10 mph to 30 mph and the risk more than doubles to 47%. AAA’s latest study found that speed impacted system performance as well, with results varying between testing performed at 20 mph and 30 mph.

In partnership with the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center, AAA evaluated the performance of four midsize sedans equipped with automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection to determine the effectiveness of these systems. Testing was conducted on a closed course using simulated pedestrian targets for the following scenarios:

  • An adult crossing in front of a vehicle traveling at 20 mph and 30 mph during the day and at 25 mph at night.
  • A child darting out from between two parked cars in front of a vehicle traveling at 20 mph and 30 mph.
  • A vehicle turning right onto an adjacent road with an adult crossing at the same time.
  • Two adults standing along the side of the road with their backs to traffic, with a vehicle approaching at 20 mph and 30 mph.

Overall, the systems performed best in the instance of the adult crossing in front of a vehicle traveling at 20 mph during the day. In this case, the systems avoided a collision 40% of the time. But, at the higher speed of 30 mph, most systems failed to avoid a collision with the simulated pedestrian target. The other scenarios proved to be more challenging for the systems:

  • When encountering a child darting from between two cars, with the vehicle traveling at 20 mph, a collision occurred 89% of the time.
  • Immediately following a right hand turn, all of the test vehicles collided with the adult pedestrian.
  • When approaching two adults standing alongside the road, with the vehicle traveling at 20 mph, a collision occurred 80% of the time.
  • In general, the systems were ineffective in all scenarios where the vehicle was traveling at 30 mph.
  • At night, none of the systems detected or reacted to the adult pedestrian.

“The rise in pedestrian deaths is a major concern and automakers are on the right path with the intent of these systems,” continued Brannon. “Our goal with this testing is to identify where the gaps exist to help educate consumers and share these findings with manufacturers to work to improve their functionality.”

New vehicle technology can alert drivers and assist in lessening the likelihood or severity of a crash – whether with another vehicle or even more importantly, a pedestrian. But, until these systems are proven to perform consistently – especially pedestrian detection systems – during the day and at night and in a range of situations, AAA recommends drivers always:

  • Be alert of their immediate surroundings. Do not rely on pedestrian detection systems to prevent a crash. This technology should only serve as a backup and not a replacement for an engaged driver.
  • Read the owner’s manual to understand what safety systems the vehicle is equipped with. Before leaving the lot, ask the dealer to explain how these systems work, including what safety system alerts sound and look like and what triggers their activation.
  • Use extra caution when driving at night since this is the riskiest time for pedestrians and where the systems struggled the most. Previous AAA research found that headlights, even in new condition, do not provide the amount of light needed for drivers to appropriately react to something or someone in the roadway.

It is a driver’s responsibility to yield to pedestrians, but those traveling by foot should be diligent as well. Pedestrians should use caution by staying on sidewalks and using crosswalks as often as possible. Always obey traffic signals, look both ways before crossing the street and do not walk and text.

Methodology

To assess the capabilities of pedestrian detection systems, AAA conducted primary research in partnership with the Automotive Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center in Los Angeles, California. Track testing was conducted on closed surface streets on the grounds of the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.

Four test vehicles were selected (2019 Chevy Malibu, 2019 Honda Accord, 2019 Tesla Model 3 and 2019 Toyota Camry) using specific criteria and each test vehicle was outfitted using industry-standard instrumentation, sensors and cameras to capture vehicle dynamics, position data and visual notifications from the pedestrian detection system. Three simulated pedestrian targets were used including two dynamic models and each were outfitted with industry-standard instrumentation to time movement as well as receive position, speed and acceleration from the dynamic target. Complete methodology can be found in the full research report here.

About AAA

AAA provides more than 59 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 34 motor clubs and nearly 1,100 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. To join, visit AAA.com.

Need AAA Roadside Help? Just talk to Google or Alexa

September 24th, 2019 by AAA Public Affairs

New Feature Uses Digital Assistants to Place Service Requests

ORLANDO, Fla. (September 24, 2019) – AAA members needing emergency service can now get help just by talking to their digital assistant. A new AAA-developed feature for Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa allows members to forgo the call and make requests for some roadside service needs, such as fuel refills, battery replacements, or flat tire repairs directly through their digital assistants.

“Roadside service is the leading reason members join AAA. With 1 in 3 calls originating from home, this new feature for Amazon Alexa and Google Home provides an innovative, convenient way for members to request service,” said AAA Chief Technology Officer Ramon Millan. “These sorts of services are something people have come to expect.”

There are about 118 million digital assistants in use in U.S. homes, and that number is growing every day.

Before using the feature – also called a “skill” – users must enable Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa on their smart device. To request help, members instruct Amazon Alexa to “Open AAA Road Service,” or tell Google Assistant to “Talk to AAA Road Service.” The skill works with home digital assistants, smartphones or tablets.

The first time a member uses the skill, they will be asked to provide information to confirm their AAA membership. Once that’s been done, the skill will talk them through the service-request process. In 2017, AAA unveiled a similar voice-activated service that allows members to find AAA-approved restaurants.

“This new feature has the potential to change the way many members interact with AAA – especially members who are digital natives,” said Millan.

For now, the skill allows members to make certain types of roadside service requests only. Those include battery boost/replacement, fuel delivery, vehicle lockout service and flat tire service. AAA is exploring opportunities to expand the system to accommodate full-service requests such as towing.

About AAA:

AAA provides more than 59 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 34 motor clubs and nearly 1,100 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. To join, visit AAA.com.

AAA: True Cost of Annual Vehicle Ownership Rises to $9,282

September 12th, 2019 by AAA Public Affairs

Spike in Finance Costs Drives Increase

ORLANDO, Fla. (September 12, 2019) – It’s going to cost more for those looking to buy a new car this year. Finance costs on new car purchases have jumped 24% in 2019, according to new AAA research, pushing the average annual cost of vehicle ownership to $9,282, or $773.50 a month. That’s the highest cost associated with new vehicle ownership since AAA began tracking expenses in 1950 and a reminder that the true costs of owning a vehicle extend far beyond maintenance and fuel.

“Finance costs accounted for more than 40% of the total increase in average vehicle ownership costs,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director for Automotive Engineering & Repair. “AAA found finance charges rose more sharply in the last 12 months than any major expense associated with owning a vehicle.”

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The spike in finance charges – which rose from $744 to $920, a nearly $200 increase — was fueled by rising federal interest rates and higher vehicle prices. It comes as 72-month car loans have become increasingly common – meaning car buyers are paying more, and longer, for vehicles that lose value the moment they’re sold. Long-term loans offer lower monthly car payments, but they ultimately cost the consumer more. AAA found that, on average, every 12 months added to the life of a loan adds nearly $1,000 in total finance charges.

“Smaller monthly payments may be tempting to potential buyers, but they can add big costs in the long run,” Nielsen said.

The new figures come from Your Driving Costs, which reviews nine categories of vehicles – consisting of 45 models – to determine the average annual operating and ownership costs of each. AAA focuses on top-selling, mid-priced models and compares them across six expense categories: fuel prices; maintenance/repair/tire costs; insurance rates; license/registration/taxes; depreciation; and finance charges. Annual average costs increased in each category.

Of all costs, depreciation, a measure of how quickly a car loses value, remains the single biggest cost of ownership, accounting for more than a third (36%) of the average annual cost. It slowed a bit this year, with vehicles included in the study losing an average of $3,334 a year, up $45 – or 1.4% – from last year. In 2018, depreciation rose by $117, or 3.7%. In two vehicle classes this year – small and medium sedans – depreciation costs actually declined.

Other key findings of this year’s Your Driving Costs include:

  • Average fuel cost rose to 11.6 cents per mile, 5% higher than last year. The per-mile increase was driven by gasoline prices, which are up 15.6 cents per gallon over the timeframe covered by the study. Electricity prices for EV charging also rose 0.1 cent per kilowatt-hour (0.08%), but the market share of the electric vehicles in the study (0.48%) makes the effect of this increase on the overall average fuel cost negligible. Fuel costs vary widely by vehicle type, ranging from a low of 3.65 cents per mile for electric vehicles, to 15.67 cents per mile for pickup trucks.
  • Average maintenance and repair costs climbed marginally to 8.94 cents per mile, up 8.9% over last year. The increase was fueled by the growing complexity of vehicle systems and an updated methodology for calculating repair costs.
  • Electric vehicles had the lowest maintenance and repair costs – 6.6 cents per mile – while medium-sized SUVs had the highest at 9.6 cents per mile.
  • The cost of licenses, registration fees and taxes rose $14 to $753 per year, an increase of 1.9%
  • Average annual costs by new vehicle category (based on 15,000 miles driven annually):
New Vehicle Category Annual Cost
Small Sedan $7,114
Hybrid $7,736
Electric $8,320
Small SUV $8,394
Medium Sedan $8,643
Medium SUV $10,265
Large Sedan $10,403
Pickup $10,839

The AAA study gives the public a window into the true costs of owning and operating a vehicle by quantifying expenses that owners may overlook. Additional information and details can be found at AAA.com/YourDrivingCosts.

After purchasing a home, buying a vehicle is probably a consumer’s second biggest expense. Research is key, as is acting carefully and methodically. AAA.com/autobuying is a comprehensive resource that can help make the process more manageable. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Know what you can afford to spend before going to the dealership. Determine your budget and stick to it.
  • Minimize total finance costs by getting the shortest loan term you can afford.
  • Seasonally, the best times to buy tend to be the last two weeks of December – when dealers are trying to hit year-end goals – and, to a lesser extent, between July and October. That’s when dealers are trying to clear lots to make way for the next year’s models.
  • The best time to buy is the end of the month because sales managers like to build campaigns around monthly quotas. Shop toward the end of the month and you’ll find a dealer may offer additional price concessions.
  • Consider a late-model, gently used vehicle. New cars lose around 20% of their value the moment they leave the lot, so you can save big if you look for a car that’s a year or two old. Your insurance costs could be less, too.
  • If you belong to AAA or a similar organization, you may qualify for dealer discounts. Dealer networks sometimes agree to limit profits when selling to club members, though the deals will be limited to certain makes and models.

Methodology

AAA’s Your Driving Costs study employs a proprietary AAA methodology to analyze the costs of owning and operating a new vehicle in the United States. The methodology incorporates standardized criteria to estimate the costs of using a new vehicle for personal transportation over five years and 75,000 miles of ownership. Your Driving Costs is designed to help consumers make informed vehicle purchase decisions and budget for annual automotive expenses.

About AAA

AAA provides more than 59 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 34 motor clubs and nearly 1,100 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. To join, visit AAA.com.

New research finds vehicle escape tools effective in breaking tempered side windows, but not laminated

ORLANDO, Fla. (July 16, 2019) – New research from AAA reveals that most vehicle escape tools, intended to quickly aid passengers trapped in a car following an accident, will break tempered side windows, but none were able to penetrate laminated glass. Motorists may not realize it, but an increasing number of new cars – in fact, 1 in 3 2018 vehicle models – have laminated side windows, a nearly unbreakable glass meant to lessen the chance of occupant ejection during a collision. AAA urges drivers to know what type of side window glass is installed on their vehicle, keep a secure and easily accessible escape tool in their car and have a backup plan in case an escape tool cannot be used or doesn’t work.

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In its latest study, AAA examined a selection of vehicle escape tools available to consumers to determine their effectiveness in breaking tempered and laminated vehicle side windows. Of the six tools selected (three spring-loaded and three hammer style), AAA researchers found that only four were able to shatter the tempered glass and none were able to break the laminated glass, which stayed intact even after being cracked. During multiple rounds of testing, it was also discovered that the spring-loaded tools were more effective in breaking tempered windows than the hammer-style.

“To improve safety, more vehicles are being equipped with laminated side windows – but a majority also have at least one window made of tempered glass,” said John Nielsen, managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair for AAA. “Our research found that generally vehicle escape tools can be effective in an emergency, but only if drivers know what type of side windows they have, otherwise they could waste precious seconds trying to break glass that will not shatter.”

Drivers can determine the type of glass installed on their vehicle by first checking for a label located in the bottom corner of the side window, which should clearly indicate whether the glass is tempered or laminated. If this information is not included or there is no label at all, AAA advises contacting the vehicle manufacturer. It is also important to note that some vehicles are outfitted with different glass at varying locations in the car (i.e. tempered glass on rear side windows versus laminated on front side windows).

The increased use of laminated glass is in response to federal safety standards aimed at reducing occupant ejections in high speed collisions. In 2017, there were an estimated 21,400 people who were partially or fully ejected during a crash, resulting in 11,200 injuries and 5,053 deaths. While these types of crashes are more prevalent, there are instances where vehicles may catch fire or become partially or fully submerged in water, forcing drivers and their passengers to exit the vehicle through a side window. In situations like this, vehicle escape tools can assist ahead of emergency responders arriving.

Vehicle escape tools come in many varieties, but AAA suggests avoiding tools with extra features such as lights or chargers since these functions do not improve the performance of the tool itself. Drivers should also remember that in the event their vehicle is submerged, a hammer-style escape tool (as opposed to a spring-loaded-style) will be ineffective underwater.  

“Drivers should pick a tool they feel comfortable with and find easy to use, but most importantly they should store it somewhere that is secure and within reach following a collision,” added Nielsen.

Being prepared in an emergency can greatly improve the chances of survival, especially if drivers and their passengers have become trapped in the vehicle. AAA strongly recommends drivers do the following:

Prepare ahead of time:

  • Memorize the type of glass the vehicle windows are made of – tempered or laminated. If the car has at least one tempered window, this will be the best point of exit in an emergency. Also, remember – standard escape tools will not break laminated glass.
  • Keep an escape tool in the car that the driver is comfortable using, has previously tested and is easy to access following a collision. To make sure a vehicle escape tool is working properly, test it ahead of time on a softer surface such as a piece of soft wood. The tool works if the tip impacts the surface, leaving a small indent in the material.
  • Plan an exit strategy in advance and communicate it to everyone in the car. This will help avoid confusion in an emergency, which could increase the time it takes to exit the vehicle. Also, have a backup plan in case an escape tool cannot be used or doesn’t work.

If trapped in a vehicle, remember there is a S-U-R-E way out:

  • Stay calm. While time is of the essence – work cautiously to ensure everyone safely exits the vehicle.
  • Unbuckle seat belts and check to see that everyone is ready to leave the car when it’s time.
  • Roll down or break a window – remember if the car is sinking in water, once the window is open the water will rush into the car at a faster rate. If the window will not open and the car has tempered glass, use an escape tool to break a side window to escape. Drivers should also remember that:
    • Drivers and/or occupants should make every effort to roll down a window as soon as the vehicle enters the water. However, if a window will not open or cannot be broken because it is laminated, call 911 immediately.
    • If the vehicle is submerged, a hammer-style escape tool (as opposed to a spring-loaded-style) could be much harder to swing underwater.
  • Exit the vehicle quickly and move everyone to safety.
  • Call 911 – while this is typically the first step in an emergency, if a vehicle has hit the water or is on fire, it is best to try to escape first.

Methodology

For testing methodology, refer to the full report by clicking here.

About AAA

AAA provides more than 59 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 34 motor clubs and nearly 1,100 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. To join, visit AAA.com.

Why Aren’t Americans Plugging in to Electric Vehicles?

May 9th, 2019 by AAA Public Affairs

AAA finds interest in going green remains steady but consumers still slow to adopt

ORLANDO, Fla. (May. 9, 2019) – AAA’s latest survey reveals that despite many Americans having interest in electric vehicles, when asked if most vehicles will be electric by 2029, only 4 in 10 said yes. Yet, a separate study AAA conducted earlier this year found that more than half of Americans believe that in this same timeframe most cars will have the ability to drive themselves – a reality that is much less likely to happen. AAA believes that similar to other emerging technologies, a lack of knowledge and experience may be contributing to the slow adoption of electric vehicles despite Americans’ desire to go green.

Additional Resources

“Today, more than 200,000 electric cars can be found on roads across the country as almost every manufacturer sells them,” said Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering and Industry Relations. “But, like other new vehicle technologies, Americans don’t have the full story and that could be causing the gap between interest and action.”

AAA’s annual survey that tracks opinions regarding electric and hybrid vehicles found that while consumer interest remains steady, Americans may not have a solid understanding of electric vehicle performance, which may be giving consumers pause when it comes to considering electric for their next purchase. For instance, electric vehicles, unlike those running on gas, do better in stop and go traffic because the car can recapture energy to charge the battery when decelerating. However, AAA’s survey found that a majority of Americans (59 percent) were unsure of whether electric vehicles have better range when driving at highways speeds or in stop and go traffic. This demonstrates that many consumers are not sure what to expect from an electric vehicle in two of the most common driving scenarios.

Although most Americans don’t believe electric vehicles will be on the road in masses in the next 10 years, AAA did find that 40 million Americans say they would be likely to consider an electric vehicle for their next car purchase, with Millennials leading the pack. Concern for the environment and lower long-term costs remain the leading reasons to go green (74 percent and 56 percent respectively). Previous objections to buying electric with regards to price and range anxiety continue to ease and have trended downward significantly:

  • Concern that there are not enough places to charge – down 11 percentage points from 2017
  • Concern about running out of charge when driving – down 11 percentage points from 2017
  • Higher cost of battery repair or replacement – down 8 percentage points from 2017
  • Higher purchase price – down 6 percentage points from 2017

“These vehicles are a big part of the future of transportation since self-driving cars, when they do arrive, will likely be electric,” continued Brannon. “The difference, of course, is that electric vehicles are already here and with the advancements in style and range that have been made over the last few years, they have become an even more viable option for many Americans.”  

Consumers interested in electric vehicles, but still unsure should research and learn as much as possible about these types of cars. AAA also recommends drivers visit a dealership, test drive an electric vehicle and ask as many questions as possible of the dealer and other electric vehicle owners. It is also important to understand charging options available at home to ensure consumers can take full advantage of electric vehicle technology with the least inconvenience.

Each year AAA (Automobile Club of Southern California Automotive Research Center) produces its Green Car Guide, which rates electric vehicles as well as hybrids and highly fuel efficient cars based on criteria such as ride quality, safety and performance. This comprehensive guide can serve as a resource to consumers since it not only provides detailed reviews of each car tested, but also offers robust information on green vehicles. Consumers who are on the fence will find that this guide can be a valuable resource for learning more about electric and other environmentally friendly vehicles.

“Consumers may not realize it, but they have many options when it comes to shopping for an electric vehicle,” said Megan McKernan, manager of Automotive Research Center. “The Green Car Guide can help first-time and even return buyers navigate the marketplace and dispel any misconceptions they may have about these types of vehicles.”

In 2019, the following vehicles earned AAA’s Top Green Car award:

Category Vehicle
Overall 2019 Jaguar I-Pace EV400 HSE
Subcompact Car 2019 Chevy Bolt Premier
Compact Car 2018 Nissan Leaf SL
Midsize Car 2018 Tesla Model 3 RWD
Large Car 2018 Tesla Model S P100D
Pickup 2018 Ford F-150 4×4 Supercrew
SUV/Minivan 2019 Jaguar I-Pace EV400 HSE
Best Under $30K 2019 Toyota Camry SE
Best $30K – $50K 2018 Nissan Leaf SL
Best Over $50K 2019 Jaguar I-Pace EV400 HSE

Winners, detailed evaluation criteria, vehicle reviews and an in-depth analysis of the green vehicle industry can be found at AAA.com/greencar.

Methodology

A telephone omnibus survey was conducted April 4-7, 2019. A total of 1,000 interviews were completed among adults, 18 years of age or older.

A dual-frame approach was used that combined land-line and cell phone interviews to ensure that adults who only or primarily communicate via cell phones are included and properly represented. Survey responses are weighted by six variables (age, gender, geographic region, race/ethnicity, education, and landline vs. cell phone only) to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the total continental US population, 18 years of age and older.

The margin of error for the study is 3.8% at the 95% confidence level. Smaller subgroups will have larger error margins.

About AAA

AAA provides more than 59 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 34 motor clubs and nearly 1,100 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. To join, visit AAA.com.

AAA’s research shows the importance of allowing Adaptive Driving Beam Headlights on U.S. roads

ORLANDO, Fla. (Apr. 16, 2019) – Driving at night carries the highest fatality rate for both drivers and pedestrians but could be made safer by headlight technology already on the roads in Europe and Canada. New research from AAA found that European vehicles equipped with adaptive driving beam headlights (ADB) increase roadway lighting by as much as 86 percent when compared to U.S. low beam headlights. AAA believes this technology, not presently allowed by U.S. standards, is the first real solution to providing more light for drivers at night and AAA supports changes in the law to allow ADB to be used to its full capability.

Additional Resources

“Driving at night doesn’t have to be such a risky undertaking for Americans,” said John Nielsen, managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair, AAA. “The technology not only exists but is being used in other parts of the world to effectively provide the amount of light needed to keep drivers and pedestrians safer.” 

Previous AAA research found that a majority of Americans (64 percent) do not regularly use their high beams. This means when driving at moderate speeds like 40 mph with low beams on, motorists will not have enough time to appropriately react to something or someone in the roadway. High beams, however, improve forward illumination by 28 percent in comparison and are much more effective at providing the proper amount of light when traveling at higher speeds. With ADB, the high beams are always on and when another vehicle is detected, that area is shaded to prevent glare that would otherwise interfere with the other driver’s field of vision.

Some newer U.S. vehicles are equipped with a similar technology that automatically switches between high and low beam, which does help to address this issue and increase visibility, but only when other vehicles aren’t present. However, once an oncoming or preceding vehicle is detected, the car will switch from high to low beams, thus losing the benefit of the additional light.

Another shortcoming in the U.S. standards is how headlights are assessed for regulatory compliance. Currently, just the headlamp assembly is evaluated as a stand-alone part. This is done by static testing in a lab, which does not capture critical aspects of on-road illuminance and performance, especially when evaluating a dynamic technology like ADB. The performance of these systems is dependent on the presence and location of other vehicles, as well as the camera/sensor, software and mechanism used to control the beam pattern.

“Real-world driving does not take place in a lab,” continued Nielsen. “Roads vary in so many ways – some have hills, others sharp turns – by not conducting track testing, a lot of valuable insight is missed into how headlight technology could be enhanced.”

Following a petition from Toyota, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) proposed an amendment last fall to allow manufacturers the option of equipping vehicles with ADB systems. AAA submitted comments to NHTSA regarding the proposed changes along with supporting primary research in an effort to provide insight into the performance of ADB as it exists today.

“AAA supports adaptive driving beam headlights and NHTSA’s work in this area to consider changing the current standards,” said Jill Ingrassia, managing director of Government Relations &Traffic Safety Advocacy. “Allowing ADB will not only improve roadway visibility but the safety of every driver and pedestrian who must travel at night.”

A new headlight standard and testing protocol could still be a few years away, which means drivers should take other precautions when driving at night. AAA recommends:

  • When driving after dark on unlit roadways, use high beams whenever possible. There is a difference between seeing the roadway markings, signs, and other vehicles, versus being able to perceive a non‐reflective object in your path.
  • Monitor and adjust driving speeds when traveling on unlit roads at night to allow enough time to detect, react and stop the vehicle in order to avoid striking a pedestrian, animal or object in the roadway.
  • If your car’s headlamp lenses are anything but crystal clear, have them restored or replaced to improve light output.

AAA engages in research, surveys and a significant amount of automotive testing on new and emerging vehicle technologies to help educate the driving public and keep the roadways safe. Previous research in this area includes the use of high beam versus low beam (U.S. only) and the impact of deteriorated headlights on nighttime visibility.

About AAA

AAA provides more than 59 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 34 motor clubs and nearly 1,100 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. To join, visit AAA.com.

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