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Double Digits Means Double Trouble for Vehicle Breakdowns

April 17th, 2018 by AAA Public Affairs

ORLANDO, Fla. (April 17, 2018) – As 64 percent of family travelers gear up for a road trip this summer, AAA warns that the majority of U.S. vehicles are at a higher-than-average risk for a breakdown. A new analysis of AAA roadside data shows that vehicles 10 years and older are twice as likely to end up stranded on the side of the road compared to newer vehicles and on top of that, the odds of needing a tow quadruples. With more than half of cars on the road aged 10 years or older, AAA urges drivers to minimize the chance of a breakdown by getting their vehicle road-trip ready to keep their summer travel on track.

Additional Resources

“It’s no surprise that older vehicles are more likely to encounter a serious breakdown, but it is surprising just how many people are at risk,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “All vehicles – even the newest ones – are prone to typical roadside headaches like dead batteries, flat tires and misplaced keys, but vehicles 10 years and older are four times more likely to encounter a problem serious enough to require a tow to a repair facility.”

Fortunately, most roadside trouble is avoidable. For vehicles of any age, old and new, AAA advises drivers make a good B-E-T to stay on the road by having a vehicle’s Battery, Engine and Tires checked before embarking on a summer excursion. Long trips coupled with hot weather places additional strain on vehicles and in some cases may accelerate a dormant issue. When these key systems are in good working order, AAA data shows the odds of encountering a serious breakdown are greatly reduced. The top three types of vehicle issues that could derail a road trip are:

  • Battery-related issues, including faulty starters or alternators. A battery on the brink of dying rarely warns a driver before it fails, but having a simple battery test will. Through its mobile battery program, AAA offers its members free testing of a vehicle’s battery and electrical system.
  • Engine cooling system failures, such as the radiator, thermostat or water pump or engine parts such as the timing belt, most prominently in vehicles age 10 years and older. Much like a battery, the components of the engine cooling system may fail without warning. Drivers should look for fluids such as coolant pooling underneath the vehicle when it is parked as an indication of an impending problem.
  • Tire damage severe enough to require repair or replacement. Drivers can minimize this risk by checking tread depth, tire pressure and whether their vehicle is equipped with a spare tire.

A professional and thorough vehicle inspection can help reduce the chance of a serious breakdown. If a car does end up at a repair shop, not only will a road trip be interrupted, drivers can expect to spend anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars to get back on the road. Unfortunately, many drivers may hesitate to schedule an inspection. Not only are the majority of U.S. drivers leery of repair shops, one-in-three cannot afford an unexpected vehicle repair.

“Drivers may skip taking their car in for an inspection, hoping to avoid an expensive repair bill,” Nielsen said. “But, when you factor in the cost of an interrupted trip, having a vehicle inspected and proactively repaired will cost much less in the long run.”

AAA helps take the guesswork out of finding a trusted repair facility with its Approved Auto Repair (AAR) facilities. These shops must adhere to a stringent set of standards for certifications, technical training, cleanliness, insurance requirements, and customer service set forth by AAA. Shops with the AAR designation signal to drivers a vetted facility, inspected annually, that will offer fair pricing and quality service. To locate one, drivers can visit AAA.com/AutoRepair. Additionally, AAA also offers a free repair cost calculator, also found at AAA.com/AutoRepair, that provides drivers the ability to estimate the cost of a repair or to verify a quote received for their vehicle.

AAA provides more than 58 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 36 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.

At $2.71, gas prices are at their most expensive point in nearly three years and continue to climb. On the week, the national average increased a nickel. Motorists in six west coast states are paying more than $3/gallon. Across the country, only 27 percent of gas stations are selling gas for $2.50 or less.

“Expensive crude oil prices, unrest in the Middle East, strong domestic demand, record production rates and global oil supply surplus have created the perfect storm to drive spring gas prices toward new heights,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. “Consumers can expect gas prices to increase another 5 to 10 cents this season, but the national average is not expected to reach the $3 mark.”

Today’s gas price average is 18-cents more than a month ago and 30-cents more than a year ago.

“AAA forecast that two-thirds of the 88 million families taking vacation this summer plan to drive to their destination. With more expensive gas prices on the horizon, travelers should plan now for the additional costs,” added Casselano.

Quick Stats

  • The nation’s top 10 largest increases from one year ago are: California (+55 cents), Utah (+54 cents), Hawaii (+50 cents), Idaho (+49 cents), Arizona (+45 cents), Nevada (+43 cents), Oregon (+38 cents), Georgia (+36 cents), Indiana (+35 cents) and Tennessee (+34 cents).
  • The nation’s top 10 least expensive markets are: Oklahoma ($2.43), Arkansas ($2.44), Missouri ($2.45). Mississippi ($2.46), Louisiana ($2.47), South Carolina ($2.48), Alabama ($2.49), Kansas ($2.49), Texas ($2.49) and Minnesota ($2.51).

West Coast

Drivers in the West Coast region are paying some of the highest gasoline prices in the nation: Hawaii ($3.56), California ($3.55), Washington ($3.23), Alaska ($3.20), Oregon ($3.14) and Nevada ($3.13). On the week, all average prices for unleaded regular gasoline in the West Coast states are up. Arizona (+7 cents) is not only seeing the largest increase in its average price in the region, but lands on the top 10 list of states paying the highest prices this week. Prices are significantly more expensive compared to a year ago with many states paying more than or nearly 50-cents more to fill up: California (+55 cents), Hawaii (+50 cents) and Arizona (+45 cents).

According to the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) latest report for the week ending on April 6, gasoline inventories in the region fell by 600,000 bbl to 31.4 million bbl. This draw marks the third consecutive draw in the region. Although inventories continue to drop, they are now approximately 1.5 million bbl higher than they were at this time in 2017.

Great Lakes and Central

Gas prices are more expensive on the week across all states in the Great Lakes and Central region. With a 6 cent or more increase, three states land on this week’s top 10 list with the largest increases: Michigan (+10 cents), Illinois (+7 cents) and Missouri (+7 cents).

The average gas price in the region is $2.60 with Missouri ($2.45) selling the cheapest and Michigan ($2.78) selling the most expensive gasoline.

Gasoline inventories remained relatively stable on the week in the Great Lakes and Central region. In total, inventories dropped by 26,000 bbl. This marks the fifth week of inventory declines. However, at 58 million bbl in total, inventories are 2 million bbl stronger than early April 2017.

South and Southeast

Excluding New Mexico ($2.63), Georgia ($2.64) and Florida ($2.62), all states in the South and Southeast region are paying the cheapest gas prices in the country. At $2.43, Oklahoma has the lowest gas price average in the country, which is 29-cents more expensive than the lowest price average this time last year, which was held by South Carolina ($2.14).

With a 7-cent jump, Georgia and Texas tied for the region’s largest increase on the week.

The EIA reports a decline in stocks for a second week in the South and Southeast with inventories dropping 1.5 million bbl – the largest decrease of all regions. Overall, total inventories register at 82 million bbl.

Mid-Atlantic and Northeast

West Virginia (+8 cents) tops the region with the largest jump in gas prices for a consecutive week. North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia saw the second largest changes (+6 cents) among the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast states. Delaware ($2.61) was the only state in the region and country to see the gas price average hold steady.

Pennsylvania ($2.92) is just 8-cents away from hitting the $3/mark. Prices in the state hit a high of $2.90 in both June 2015 and September 2017, but have not risen above that threshold since November 2014.

Gasoline inventories in the region jumped for a second week, adding a substantial 3 million bbl, according to the latest EIA data. This was the only build in inventories of any region in the country on the week. With the upward notch, total gasoline inventories register just above the 61 million bbl mark.

Rockies

Utah (+13 cents), Colorado (+10 cents) and Idaho (+10 cents) top this week’s top 10 list with the largest increases in the country. Both Idaho ($2.99) and Utah ($2.94) are pennies away from reaching the $3 mark, which either state has not seen since summer of 2015. Both states also land on the top 10 states list with the most expensive gas prices.

On the week, gas prices jumped 5 cents in Wyoming and 3 cents in Montana. Prices are expected to continue to climb as tourist season approaches in the Rockies. Motorists filling up in the region this summer can expect gas prices to be at least 40 cents or more expensive than last summer.

Gasoline inventory continued to drop this past week, falling by 500,000 bbl. Total inventories sit at 7.5 million bbl, the lowest for early April since 2015.

Oil market dynamics

At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI settled at $67.39. Last week, WTI traded at the highest levels since December 2014 and are expected to continue to build momentum this week. Oil prices edged higher last week following new concerns about tension in the Middle East. Following the weekend’s air strikes in Syria, it’s likely prices will go higher. Although Syria is not a major oil producer, tension in the country could ripple to other countries in the region and restrict global oil supply flows.

In its latest report, EIA data for the week ending on April 6 shows domestic crude production in the U.S. hit a new record high of 10.53 million b/d. The increased output led crude storage levels to grow by 3.3 million bbl to 428.6 million bbl. With Baker Hughes, Inc. reporting that the U.S. added seven oil rigs last week – bringing the total to 815 – crude production in the U.S. is likely to continue growing.

Motorists can find current gas prices along their route with the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. The app can also be used to map a route, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

Gas prices have held at their highest price of the year – $2.66 – for one week. And motorists are seeing fluctuating prices at the pump from state to state with jumps as high as 12-cents in Utah and declines as much as 7-cents in Michigan since last Monday.

“Gas prices are only a penny away from topping the $2.67 high of 2017,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. “The price is likely to increase as spring brings warmer weather and the switchover to summer blend gasoline, but hopefully we will only see mild jumps in coming weeks.”

Gas prices have edged higher this week following the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) latest weekly report that showed gasoline inventories dropped by 1.1 million bbl. Additionally, demand for gasoline remains robust at 9.2 million b/d and is more in line with demand levels at the same time in 2017.

Quick Stats

  • The largest yearly increases are: California ($3.52, +54 cents), Hawaii ($3.52, +47 cents), Idaho ($2.89, +44 cents), Utah ($2.81, +42 cents), Arizona ($2.67, +40 cents), Nevada ($3.07, +40 cents), Oregon ($3.10, +35 cents), Maine ($2.66, +33 cents), Rhode Island ($2.64, +33 cents) and South Carolina ($2.43, +32 cents).
  • The nation’s top ten most expensive markets are: California ($3.52), Hawaii ($3.52), Washington ($3.19), Alaska ($3.17), Oregon ($3.10), Nevada ($3.07), Idaho ($2.89), Pennsylvania ($2.87), Washington, DC ($2.83) and Utah ($2.81).

West Coast

Pump prices in this region are among the highest in the nation: California ($3.52), Hawaii ($3.52), Washington ($3.19), Alaska ($3.17), Oregon ($3.10) and Nevada ($3.07). On the week, all average prices for unleaded regular gasoline in these states are up, with Nevada (+6 cents) and Alaska (+4 cents) leading the pack. California, Washington and Oregon each increased by two cents.

EIA reported that gasoline stocks in this region decreased by 600,000 bbl for the week ending on March 30 – the second consecutive weekly decline in stocks. However, when compared to this time last year, they were approximately 2.5 million bbl higher.

Great Lakes and Central

On the week, nine states in the region are paying less to fill up: Michigan (-7 cents), Iowa (-2 cents), Nebraska (-2 cents), Missouri (-2 cents), Indiana (-2 cents), Minnesota (-1 cent), Wisconsin (-1 cent), Kansas (-1 cent), and Illinois (-1 cent). Not all states are seeing cheaper prices; Ohioans are paying 6 cents more to fill up since last Monday.

Gas price averages are volatile across the Great Lakes and Central states with a 31-cent disparity between the highest prices in Illinois ($2.70) to the cheapest in Missouri ($2.39).

Gasoline inventories dropped for a fourth week, lowering total inventories to 57.8 million bbl. This total is in-line with levels from a year ago.

South and Southeast

New Mexico (+4 cents) saw the largest price increase among the South and Southeast states on the week while Florida (-3 cents) and Oklahoma (-2 cents) lead the region in price declines.

Also seeing relief at the pump with 1 cent price declines: South Carolina, Georgia, Texas and Louisiana.

Compared to one year ago, prices are as much as a quarter or more expensive to fill up in the region: South Carolina (+32 cents), Alabama (+30 cents), Georgia (+30 cents) New Mexico (+27 cents) and Mississippi (+25 cents).

Gasoline stocks dropped 1 million bbl on the week. At 83.2 million bbl, total inventories sit at the lowest level since early February this year, but nearly 5 million bbl more than this time last year, according to EIA data.

Mid-Atlantic and Northeast

On the week, gas prices in the region slightly increased with West Virginia (+4 cents) seeing the largest jump at the pump. Only Washington, D.C.  (-1 cent) motorists are seeing a decline. Three states held their gas prices since last Monday: Virginia ($2.47), Connecticut ($2.74) and Massachusetts ($2.62).

Nearly half (12) of the 25 states in the country selling gas for $2.60 or more are Mid-Atlantic and Northeast states. The most expensive include: Pennsylvania ($2.87), Washington, D.C., ($2.83) New York ($2.76), Connecticut ($2.74) and New Jersey ($2.69).

Jumping 1 million bbl, gasoline inventories are at 57.4 million bbl, according to the latest EIA data. Despite carrying the third highest inventory of all the regions, the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast totals are 8.5 million bbl behind this time last year.

Rockies

Utah (+12 cents), Idaho (+9 cents) and Wyoming (+3 cents) land on this week’s top 10 list with the largest increases in the country. Gas prices also inched higher in Montana (+1 cent). Colorado’s ($2.51) gas price average held steady since last Monday. With the latest increase, Utah ($2.81) has seen gas prices jump by a 26-cents inside of two weeks. However, at $2.89, Idaho is carrying the most expensive gas price average in the Rockies.

Gasoline inventory fell below the 8-million bbl mark for the first time since early February and is likely to follow historical trends and drop further into the spring and summer.

Oil market dynamics

At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI decreased $1.48 to settle at $62.06. Oil prices slid backward amid fears of a trade war between the U.S. and China, as both countries issued trade threats to increase tariffs on key goods produced in each country. If the threats continue this week, the price of WTI will likely take a further hit alongside the equities market in the U.S.

This news follows EIA reporting that crude exports hit a record high of 15.2 million bbl for the week ending on March 30. The last record high occurred in October 2017. Another record high for domestic crude production of 10.5 million b/d last week contributed to the U.S. shipping more oil to other countries.

Additionally, Baker Hughes, Inc. reported that the U.S. gained 11 active oil rigs last week, raising the total number to 808. Increased U.S. crude output will likely put renewed focus on global crude supplies, as OPEC’s production reduction agreement with non-OPEC producers, including Russia, remains in effect. In fact, last week Russia’s Energy Minister Alexander Novak said that Moscow is considering cooperating with OPEC to curb global oil supplies indefinitely after the agreement expires at the end of the year. Since the agreement has been in place, OPEC and its partners have worked to reduce their combined output by 1.8 million b/d.

Motorists can find current gas prices along their route with the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. The app can also be used to map a route, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

AAA Hotel Inspectors Looking for Well Connected Properties

April 9th, 2018 by AAA Public Affairs

Julie HallORLANDO, Fla. (April 9, 2018) – AAA recently updated its hotel Approval Requirements & Diamond Rating Guidelines, the criteria inspectors use to evaluate more than 27,000 AAA Inspected & Approved hotels throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. The new guidelines, developed with input from AAA inspectors, members and industry professionals, reflect the importance of connective technologies that allow guests and lodging operators to interact on an increasingly personalized basis.

Ratings previously given for the traditional business center have been replaced by a score for connective technology, which reflects the hotel’s overall capability to connect with its guests. This includes not only the availability of free Wi-Fi and USB ports, but also robust mobile apps, interactive kiosks, mobile key technology, and the availability of digital messaging services at high-end properties.

Additional Resources

“AAA members put a high value on the availability and use of convenient, leading-edge technology at hotels. They expect properties to have up-to-date devices and free internet access, but also for the hotel to connect with them via technology,” said Michael Petrone, director, AAA Inspections & Diamond Ratings. “Thanks to the proliferation and rapidly increasing sophistication of hotel mobile apps, guests today can do a lot right from their smartphones and tablets.”

This translates to guests being able to book, check in and choose a room from a hotel’s app at a time and place that is convenient for them. While on-site, hotel guests can use these technologies to request more pillows and order breakfast, and increasingly, use their phone as a room key to bypass hotel staff upon check-in if they choose. Some properties are beginning to incorporate robotic bell staff and voice-controlled guest rooms, a peek at the technological possibilities of the near future.

AAA’s inspectors now also review a hotel’s technological capabilities, particularly guest request systems, as part of the anonymous overnight service evaluation conducted at Five Diamond properties. Inspectors use the hotel’s digital systems during their stay, and evaluate responsiveness, communication, presentation and follow-up.

Additional changes to the Diamond Rating guidelines reflect the proliferation of open-concept lobby designs with increased focus on gathering spaces and social seating arrangements; the popularity of shower-only bathrooms; the use of modern materials, especially for flooring; and the trickling down of high-end details—such as plush bedding, large, flat-screen televisions and sleek bathroom lighting—from upscale properties to the midscale and budget categories.

“The updated guidelines reinforce AAA’s longstanding pledge to provide our members with reliable travel information through on-site inspections and accurate ratings for all AAA Inspected & Approved hotels,” continued Petrone. “We include members in the review process to ensure the requirements reflect their expectations and the ratings emphasize their priorities.”

The new guidelines are currently in use by AAA’s professional inspectors and are available to hotels on AAA.biz/Approved.

AAA began field inspections of lodgings and restaurants in 1937, which evolved into the Diamond Ratings for hotels in 1976. The assignment of a rating of One to Five Diamonds marks the completion of a successful on-site evaluation by a professional AAA inspector. To learn more about AAA Diamond Ratings, visit AAA.com/Diamonds.

About AAA Inspections

For more than 80 years, AAA has used professional inspectors to conduct in-person property evaluations. AAA offers the only rating system using comprehensive, on-site professional hotel and restaurant evaluations guided by member priorities. With a far greater inventory than any other rating entity, AAA’s rating system covers the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.

Travelers can find Diamond Rated establishments and inspector insight in AAA’s trip planning products: the AAA Mobile app, the online AAA Travel Guides and Travel Planner and the AAA TourBook guides available to members at AAA offices.

AAA provides more than 58 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 36 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.

Gas prices are edging up across the country as the market continues to purge winter-blend gasoline to make room for summer storage. At $2.66, the national gas price average is 5-cents more expensive on the week and 11-cents more expensive than two weeks ago.

“Today, only 38 percent of U.S. gas stations are selling gasoline for $2.50 or less and that percentage will likely dwindle in coming weeks,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. “The holiday weekend, strong demand and preparation for summer gasoline are all factors that have driven and will continue to drive higher gas prices into early spring.”

In spite of price fluctuations, gasoline demand fell to 9.2 b/d according to the latest Energy Information Administration data – the lowest point for the month of March, but remains strong for this time of year.

 

Quick Stats

  • The nation’s top 10 largest weekly increases are: Utah (+14 cents), Kentucky (+10 cents), Missouri (+9 cents), Florida (+9 cents), Arizona (+9 cents), Idaho (+8 cents), Georgia (+8 cents), Nevada (+8 cents), New Mexico (+7 cents) and Indiana (+7 cents).
  • The nation’s top 10 most expensive markets are: Hawaii ($3.52), California ($3.51), Washington ($3.17), Alaska ($3.13), Oregon ($3.09), Nevada ($3.01), Pennsylvania ($2.86), Washington, DC ($2.83), Idaho ($2.80) and New York ($2.77).

West Coast

Drivers in West Coast states are paying the highest pump prices in the nation: Hawaii ($3.52), California ($3.51), Washington ($3.17), Alaska ($3.13), Oregon ($3.09) and Nevada ($3.01). On the week, all drivers in these states saw an increase in prices at the pump. Arizona (+9 cents) saw the largest leap, while Hawaii (+1 cent) saw the smallest.

At 1.59 million b/d, last week’s total gasoline production rate is nearly 60,000 b/d less than the rate last year at this time. According to the EIA’s latest weekly report, total gasoline inventories in the region declined by 36,000 b/d last week to sit at 32.7 million bbl.. However, inventories may decline further with this week’s scheduled planned maintenance at the Phillips 66 Los Angeles Refinery, which can produce up to 147,000 b/d of gasoline.

Great Lakes and Central

Gas prices are more expensive on the week across the Great Lakes and Central region with three states landing on this week top 10 list with the biggest increases: Kentucky (+10 cents), Missouri (+9 cents) and Indiana (+7 cents). Nebraska ($2.56) was the only state in the region to see no change at the pump this week.

Kentucky (+37 cents) and Indiana (+35 cents) are the leading states in the region with the largest year-over-year increase. Ohio (+17 cents) has the region’s and country’s lowest year-over-year difference in gas prices.

With a nearly 500,000 bbl draw, gasoline inventories continue to sit above the 58 million bbl mark. The region carries the second-highest inventory level in the country – second to the South and Southeast’s 84 million bbl.

South and Southeast

At nearly a dime increase, Florida (+9 cents) has the fourth largest gas price jump in the country and the highest in the South and Southeast on the week. Georgia (+8 cent) and New Mexico (+7 cents) also saw large jumps. Despite the increases, the South and Southeast continue to carry the least expensive gas prices averages in the country: Arkansas ($2.38), Mississippi ($2.40), Oklahoma ($2.42), Alabama ($2.43), Texas ($2.43) Louisiana ($2.44) and South Carolina ($2.44).

Motorists in South Carolina are paying 40-cents more for a gallon of gas compared to the beginning of April 2017. This is the third highest year-over-year increase of any state in the country. Georgia (+38 cents) has the fifth highest increase compared to this time last year.

The region was the only one to see a jump in gasoline inventories. With an addition of 418,000 bbl, inventories total above 84 million bbl, according to the EIA.

Mid-Atlantic and Northeast

Pump prices are up as much as 7 cents across the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast region on the week. Pennsylvania (+7 cents) and Maine (+6 cents) saw the largest increases. Pennsylvania ($2.86) and Washington, D.C.  ($2.83) carry the most expensive prices while Virginia ($2.47) and Tennessee ($2.46) sell the least expensive.

Compared to one year ago, Tennessee (+39 cents), Maine (+38 cents), New Jersey (+37 cents) and Massachusetts (+36 cents) motorists are paying significantly more to fill up at the pump.

With a 3.3 million bbl draw, the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast region saw the largest drop in inventory on the week, according to EIA data. At 56 million bbl in total, inventories sit 10 million bbl below this time last year.

Rockies

Utah (+14 cents) and Idaho (+8 cents) land on this week’s top 10 states with the largest increase on the week. At $2.80, Idaho’s gas price average is the ninth most expensive in the country and the most expensive in the Rockies region. Eleven cents cheaper, Utah ($2.69) has the second highest gas price average in the region. On the week, pump prices jumped 4-cents in Colorado, three cents in Wyoming and remained stabled in Montana ($2.58).

Utah (+24 cents) and Idaho (+23 cents) also rank as two of the three leading states in the country with gas prices nearly a quarter more than this time last month.

The EIA reports that gasoline inventories in this region were unchanged on the week, remaining at 8 million bbl.

Oil market dynamics

The NYMEX was closed on Friday due to the holiday. On Thursday, WTI increased 56 cents to settle at $64.94. The increase was led by Baker Hughes active rig count report that revealed the U.S. dropped seven active rigs last week, bringing the total to 797. Price gains were tempered by EIA’s weekly report showing that total crude oil inventories grew by 1.5 million bbl last week. Moreover, domestic crude hit another top record for weekly production at 10.4 million b/d. If this week’s EIA report shows another inventory build, driven by record-setting oil production, prices may move lower as it may signal that global crude supplies may be on the rise again.

Motorists can find current gas prices along their route with the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. The app can also be used to map a route, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

Tamra Johnson

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Mar. 29, 2018) ― Distracted driving tops drivers’ list of growing dangers on the road, according to a new survey from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The annual Traffic Safety Culture Index shows that 88 percent of drivers believe distracted driving is on the rise, topping other risky behaviors like:

  • Aggressive driving: 68 percent
  • Drivers using drugs: 55 percent
  • Drunk driving: 43 percent

The proportion of drivers who report talking on a cell phone regularly or fairly often when behind the wheel jumped 46 percent since 2013. Nearly half (49 percent) of drivers report recently talking on a hand-held phone while driving and nearly 35 percent have sent a text or email. Despite their behavior, nearly 58 percent of drivers say talking on a cellphone behind the wheel is a very serious threat to their personal safety, while 78 percent believe that texting is a significant danger. A recent study from the AAA Foundation shows drivers talking on a cellphone are up to four times as likely to crash while those who text are up to eight times as likely to be involved in a crash.

Additional Resources

“With more than 37,000 deaths on U.S. roads in 2016, we need to continue finding ways to limit driving distractions and improve traffic safety,” said Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “The Foundation’s work offers insight on drivers’ attitudes toward traffic safety and their behaviors, so we can better understand the issue and identify potential countermeasures to reduce crashes.”

Drivers in the AAA survey believe the problem of distracted driving has increased over the past three years, with nearly 50 percent reporting that they regularly see drivers emailing or texting while driving. Counterintuitively, federal estimates show the number of distracted driving crashes has actually dropped two percent. This may be due to the fact that it is difficult to detect distraction following a crash which makes distracted driving one of the most underreported traffic safety issues. According to government estimates, distraction plays a factor in just 14 percent of all crashes. However, past AAA Foundation research looking into teen drivers (one of the most vulnerable driving populations), used in-vehicle dash-cam videos to determine that distraction was a factor in 58 percent of crashes, 44 percent more than federal estimates.

“As the number of distractions behind the wheel increases- from the latest phone apps to in-vehicle technology, it is important that we better educate drivers on the dangers of distraction,” said Jake Nelson, AAA director of traffic safety advocacy and research. “There is a disconnect between what drivers do and what they believe. While most recognize the dangers created by taking your eyes off the road, they engage in distracting behaviors anyway- creating a ‘do as I say, not as I do’ culture on the roadway.”

Any level of risk is too high when it comes to safe driving. Tasks that require a driver to take their eyes or attention off the road should be avoided while the vehicle is in motion- including the use of cellphones, infotainment systems, or navigation systems. AAA urges drivers to act responsibly when behind the wheel. In order to avoid distractions, drivers should:

  • Put aside electronic distractions and never use text messaging, email, video games or internet functions, including those built into the vehicle, while driving.
  • Pre-program your GPS and adjust seats, mirrors, climate controls and sound systems before driving.
  • Properly secure children and pets and store loose possessions and other items that could roll around in the car.
  • Snack smart by avoiding messy foods that can be difficult to manage.

The new survey results are part of the AAA Foundation’s annual Traffic Safety Culture Index, which identifies attitudes and behaviors related to traffic safety. The survey data are from a sample of 2,613 licensed drivers ages 16 and older who reported driving in the past 30 days. The AAA Foundation issued its first Traffic Safety Culture Index in 2008, and the latest report is online at www.AAAFoundation.org.

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 300 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 56 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.  Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

With the arrival for spring, gas prices immediately became more expensive nationwide. The national gas price average is $2.61, which is a nickel more expensive on the week. Six states are seeing double-digit increases: Idaho (+16 cents), Utah (+14 cents), Delaware (+13 cents), New Mexico (+12 cents), South Carolina (+10 cents) and Maryland (+10 cents). As prices soar, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports that demand dropped to 9.3 million b/d as gasoline stocks dipped (1.7 million b/d) on the week.

“Right now we are seeing the market starting to purge winter-blend gasoline to make room for summer-blend,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. “The jump in gas prices is just the beginning for the season. AAA forecasts the national gas price average will be as much as $2.70/gallon this spring and summer.”

Today’s national gas price average ($2.61) is nine cents more than a month ago and 33 cents more expensive than this time last year.

Quick Stats

  • The nation’s top 10 largest weekly increases are: Idaho (+16 cents), Utah (+14 cents), Delaware (+13 cents), New Mexico (+12 cents), South Carolina (+10 cents), Maryland (+10 cents), Alabama (+9 cents), Oregon (+9 cents), Michigan (+9 cents) and Washington (+9 cents).
  • The nation’s top 10 least expensive markets are: Missouri ($2.31), Mississippi ($2.35), Arkansas ($2.36), Alabama ($2.37), Louisiana ($2.39), Texas ($2.39), South Carolina ($2.40), Oklahoma ($2.40), Tennessee ($2.41) and Ohio ($2.42).

West Coast

Pump prices in West Coast states are among the highest in the nation: Hawaii ($3.51), California ($3.47), Alaska ($3.09), Washington ($3.14), Oregon ($3.05) and Nevada ($2.93). On the week, all drivers in these states saw an increase in prices at the pump. Washington (+9 cents) and Oregon (+9 cents) saw the largest jumps, while Nevada (+7 cents) and California (+6 cents) were close behind. Alaska (+2 cents) and Hawaii (+1 cent) saw the smallest increases.

According to the EIA’s latest weekly report, total gasoline stocks in the region increased last week by 400,000 bbl. They now sit at 32.8 million bbl, which is approximately 4.2 million bbl more than last year’s level at this time.

Great Lakes and Central

Gas prices rose sharply in the Great Lakes and Central region on the week. Michigan (+9 cents) and Nebraska (+9 cents) saw the largest increase followed by Indiana (+8 cents), Iowa (+7 cents) and Illinois (+7 cents).

Within the region and the country, Ohio is the outlier seeing gas prices drop one cent since last Monday.

North Dakota ($2.57) was the only state to see prices remain stable in the region in the last week, but continues to be among the most expensive among the Great Lakes and Central. Coincidentally, the state is one of only two in the region to see a gas price drop on the compared to last month: North Dakota (-3 cents) and Minnesota (-2 cents). All other states are paying more to fill up compared to February 2018 with three states paying a considerable amount more on the month: Michigan (+22 cents), Indiana (+21 cents) and Illinois (+15 cents).

For a second week, gasoline inventories dropped. According to EIA data, the region took a 1.3 million bbl draw to register at 58.8 million bbl. Overall, inventory levels stand just below this time last year, but about 3.5 million bbl above the five-year average for this time of year.

South and Southeast

Three states from the South and Southeast region land on the top 10 list with the biggest change with two of them seeing at least an increase of a dime: New Mexico (+12 cents), South Carolina (+10 cents) and Alabama (+9 cents). Texas (+8 cents) and Mississippi (+7 cents) also saw large jumps on the week. Gas prices range from as cheap as $2.35 in Mississippi to as expensive as $2.55 in Florida.

Compared to March 2017, motorists in South Carolina are seeing the biggest difference in gas prices of all states in the region at 38 cents more a gallon. Prior to Hurricane Harvey, the state typically ranked as the cheapest gas prices in the country week after week. While it has occasionally re-taken the cheapest spot since the hurricane prices in the state have fluctuated.

With a 1 million bbl decrease, gasoline inventories fall below the 84 million mark. However, total inventories are at a 4 million bbl surplus compared to last March, according to the EIA.

Mid-Atlantic and Northeast

In the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast region, all states are paying more on the week with motorists in Delaware (+13 cents) and Maryland (+10 cents) seeing double-digit increases at the pump. Washington, D.C. ($2.80), Pennsylvania ($2.80) and New York ($2.73) tout the most expensive prices in the region and could trend closer to the $3/gallon mark this spring.

Paying nearly 40-cents more, four states in the region land on the top 10 list with the biggest changes year-over-year: Tennessee (+37 cents), Delaware (+37 cents), Vermont (+36 cents) and Maryland (+36 cents).

Gasoline inventories increased by a small 206,000 bbl on the week, but still sit at 59.7 million bbl. This is the first year since 2014 that March inventories sit below 60 million bbl. Year-over-year, inventories are at an 8.5 million bbl deficit in the region, according to EIA data.

Rockies

With a 16-cent increase, Idaho saw the biggest spike in gas prices in the region and in the country on the week. The state also ranks as the 10th most expensive state to fill up in nationwide. The spike brings Idaho’s gas price average ($2.72) to the most expensive in the region. Utah (+14 cents) saw the second largest spike in the country and in the region on the week. Motorists in Colorado (+5 cents) and Wyoming (+3 cents) are paying more on the week while Montana’s ($2.58) average saw no change.

With a 77,000 bbl add, gasoline inventories continue to register above 8 million bbl. Inventory totals for the region are about 278,000 bbl ahead of this time last year, according to the EIA.

Oil market dynamics

At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI increased $1.58 to settle at $65.88. The futures market for crude oil rallied last week after EIA’s report revealed crude inventories fell for the third consecutive week. Crude oil inventories dropped 2.6 million barrels from the previous week, and storage levels across the country now total 428.3 million barrels. When compared to last March, current domestic crude inventories are 104.8 million barrels lower. This year-over-year change could be attributed to higher than usual gasoline demand in the U.S. for this time of the year, which has also coincided with growing crude and gasoline exports from the U.S.

The lowering crude data also signaled that OPEC’s production reduction agreement with other large producers, including Russia, is helping to drain global crude supplies and lift the price per barrel. The reduction agreement will be in effect through the end of 2018, and it may extend into 2019. Last week in an interview, Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said that OPEC would need to continue coordinating with non-OPEC countries in the agreement on what measures to take to curb global crude supplies in 2019. This news contributed to the WTI rally that occurred at the end of last week. The supply reduction agreement, which has been in place since January 2017, has helped participating countries remove 1.8 million b/d from global crude supplies. While the agreement has been in place there has been a reduction in the global supply in crude — which has also helped to lift the price. An extension of the current agreement will likely push prices up and supplies down further.

Meanwhile, U.S. crude production continues to boom. According to EIA’s data last week, production in the U.S. hit another record high of 10.41 million b/d. As another sign of expanded crude production growth in the U.S., Baker Hughes reported that the U.S. gained four active oil rigs last week, bringing the total to 804. The total is 152 more rigs than last year at this time.

Motorists can find current gas prices along their route with the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. The app can also be used to map a route, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

Julie HallORLANDO, Fla. (March 26, 2018) – Consumers can now look beyond their fingertips to find a AAA Diamond Rated restaurant. AAA has made it as simple as asking Amazon Alexa or Google Home for suggestions. With access to 31,000 AAA Inspected & Approved restaurants, the voice-based technologies can help consumers pinpoint a restaurant locally or find the perfect place to dine while traveling on a vacation.

Additional Resources

  • Amazon Alexa: 1 | 2
  • Google Home: 1 | 2

“Consumers want information instantly and easily. Voice-based technologies, like Alexa and Google Home, are driving this trend,” said Ramon Millan, vice president, chief technology and digital officer at AAA’s national office. “AAA continues to innovate and promote these exciting new approaches and, in so doing, is meeting and exceeding the needs of AAA members and other consumers alike while providing the most convenient access to Diamond Rated restaurants.”

Using the technology, consumers can interact in an instant with the trusted information from AAA’s TourBook guides to find local restaurants and even get an explanation on the AAA Diamond Rating system. To find a AAA Diamond Rated restaurant, use these commands and tips:

  • “Alexa, tell AAA to find me a restaurant.”
  • “Okay Google, tell AAA Restaurants to find me a restaurant.”
  • Be sure to pronounce AAA as “Triple A.”
  • Alexa users must enable the skill before they can access Diamond Rated restaurants.

AAA is working to apply the technology to be compatible with other voice-based devices and expand the capabilities. To learn more about AAA’s Diamond Ratings, visit AAA.com/Diamonds.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 58 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. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Consumer gasoline demand is at the highest level on record for March. According to the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) latest report, demand measured at 9.6 million b/d – levels typical of summer months, not the first quarter of a year. U.S. exports continue to trend high, accounting for a large chunk of this week’s demand data.

“As demand strengthened, gasoline inventories declined, pushing the national gas price average two cents more expensive on the week to $2.55,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. “As a result, the majority of motorists are seeing more expensive gas prices at the start of this work week.”

Today’s national gas price average of $2.55 is two cents more than a month ago and more than a quarter (26 cents) higher than this time last year.

Quick Stats

  • The largest monthly changes are: Michigan (+17 cents), Ohio (+16 cents), Illinois (+12 cents), New Jersey (-9 cents), Oregon (+9 cents), California (+9 cents), Pennsylvania (-8 cents), Utah (-8 cents) Nevada (+8 cents), and Iowa (-7 cents).
  • The nation’s top ten most expensive markets are: Hawaii ($3.50), California ($3.41), Alaska ($3.07), Washington ($3.05), Oregon ($2.96), Nevada ($2.86), Washington, D.C. ($2.76), Pennsylvania ($2.75), New York ($2.69) and Connecticut ($2.67).

West Coast

Drivers in the West Coast region are paying the highest pump prices in the country. The top six most expensive markets in the country are in the region: Hawaii ($3.50), California ($3.41), Alaska ($3.07), Washington ($3.05), Oregon ($2.96) and Nevada ($2.86). On the week, most West Coast states saw an increase in prices at the pump, with Nevada (+6 cents) seeing the largest. Oregon, Washington, and California each jumped up four cents, while Alaska inched up by a penny. Only Hawaii saw no change in its average price for unleaded regular gasoline.

According to the EIA’s latest weekly petroleum report, gasoline inventories in the region saw a 2.1 million bbl draw last week – a major decline ahead of the spring driving season. Total gasoline stocks in the region sit at 32.4 million bbl, which is approximately 3.4 million bbl more than the level at this time last year.

Great Lakes and Central

In the Great Lakes and Central region, gas prices range from as cheap as $2.27 in Missouri to as expensive as $2.57 in North Dakota. On the week, pump prices are mostly more expensive with Kentucky (+9 cents), Illinois (+6 cents), Michigan (+4 cents) and Indiana (+3 cents) seeing the largest increases in the region. South Dakota (-2 cents), Nebraska (-1 cent), Minnesota (-1 cent) and Missouri (-1 cent) saw the largest decreases in the region. The 11-cents gap between gas price increases and decreases is not surprising as the region traditionally sees high volatility from week to week.

Gasoline inventories dropped by a small 817,000 bbl on the week, but measure at a strong 60 million bbl. Overall, inventory levels in the region are in line with levels this time last year, according to EIA data.

South and Southeast

Motorists are paying more to fill-up on the week in the South and Southeast. Georgia (+6 cents), Texas (+4 cents) and Florida (+4 cents) saw the largest increases in the region. Georgia’s week-over-week increase lands the state on the top 10 states list with the biggest jump in the country.

Despite the increases, the region continues to see some of the cheapest gas in the country. Mississippi ($2.28), Alabama ($2.28), South Carolina ($2.29), Arkansas ($2.30), Texas ($2.31), Louisiana ($2.32) and Oklahoma ($2.34) are among the top 10 states with the least expensive gas prices in the country.

Gasoline inventories dropped on the week yet remain above the 85 million bbl mark. Offline for planned maintenance the past month, Motiva’s Port Arthur, Texas, refinery has brought a processing units back online, which will likely contribute to an increase in inventory in coming weeks.

Mid-Atlantic and Northeast

Gas prices are volatile in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast region. On the week, prices pushed as much as a nickel more expensive in Maryland while decreasing by a penny in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, Vermont, New York and New Hampshire. Three states saw prices remain stable the past seven days: Maine, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Motorists in Washington, D.C. ($2.76), Pennsylvania ($2.75), New York ($2.69) and Connecticut ($2.68) are paying the most expensive gas prices in the region. These four states are also among the top 10 most expensive states in the country this week.

With a 2.4 million bbl decline, the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast region saw the largest draw in the country on the week, according to EIA data. Gasoline inventories now sit at their lowest level of the year at 59.4 million bbl.

Rockies

On the week, Idaho (+2 cents), Colorado (+2 cents) and Utah (+1 cent) saw prices increase. Meanwhile, prices are cheaper in two states: Wyoming (-2 cents) and Montana (-1 cent). At $2.58, Montana carries the most expensive state gas price average in the Rockies region, which is 22-cents more expensive than this time last year.

A fire last week at Holly Frontier’s 41,400 b/d Wood Cross refinery, north of Salt Lake City, Utah, will reduce production rates as a crude unit is shut down for potentially two months. The reduced runs will have an impact on regional inventories and likely impact gas prices this spring. Besides HollyFrontier, there are four other refineries in Utah.

Gasoline inventories continue to register above 8 million bbl, despite a small draw on the week. Levels may tighten in coming weeks with the reduction at Wood Cross refinery; however, inventories are at a healthy level and analysts don’t expect a shortage in the market. Had the reduction happened during the summer, when inventory is tight, it may have had an adverse effect.

Oil market dynamics

At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI increased $1.15 to settle at $62.34. Crude prices rallied last week after the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) latest monthly oil market report showed that global crude demand is expected to increase to 99.3 million b/d, an increase of 1.5 million b/d over 2017’s rate of 97.8 million b/d. The report also noted that global supply reached 97.9 million b/d last month, which was fueled by growth in domestic production in the U.S. The figure is 700,000 b/d higher than last year’s rate at this time. These findings gave the market some hope that although crude production is booming in the U.S., the newly produced oil will help meet global demand instead of helping global inventories grow.

The latest weekly U.S. crude production rate record – 10.4 million b/d – was set last week, according to EIA. That rate is likely to continue growing, supported by growth in the number of active oil rigs in the country. Last week, Baker Hughes reported an increase of four rigs. The total is now 800, which is 169 more than last year at this time.

Motorists can find current gas prices along their route with the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. The app can also be used to map a route, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

 

Move Over Baby Boomers, Millennials Embrace Family Travel

March 15th, 2018 by AAA Public Affairs

Julie HallAAA survey reveals an estimated 88 million Americans will take family trips this year.

ORLANDO, Fla. (March 15, 2018) – Led by millennials, some 88 million Americans plan to take family vacations this year. According to the latest research from AAA Travel, 44 percent of millennials are planning a family getaway, more than members of Generation X (39 percent) or baby boomers (32 percent).

“Just like generations before them, millennials see a family vacation as one of the best ways to create memories and reconnect with loved ones,” said Bill Sutherland, AAA senior vice president of Travel and Publishing. “No matter their age, families are going on not just one, but multiple vacations throughout the year to revisit favorite destinations and experience new places.”

Additional Resources

  • Infographics: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

As travelers seek new sights, AAA expects family trips abroad to be a hot trend in 2018. Of families who will take a trip this year, 35 percent plan to visit an international destination – a nine percentage point increase from just two years ago. Based on advance travel bookings, AAA predicts the top five most likely international destinations for families will be:

  1. Cancun, Mexico
  2. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
  3. Montego Bay, Jamaica
  4. Rome, Italy
  5. Dublin, Ireland

“We’ve seen increased demand for international travel overall, and that trend is now starting to appeal to families,” continued Sutherland.

For families staying stateside, expensive gas prices – the highest prices seen since 2014 – are not stopping vacation planners from packing up their cars for a road trip. They remain the most popular option for family vacations, with nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of those planning a trip expected to hit the roads.

Additional AAA family travel highlights for 2018:

  • Families are taking more trips per year. One in four (27 percent) traveling families is planning to take three or more family vacations in the next 12 months, 12 percentage points more than in 2016.
  • Family travelers are looking for new experiences. Three-quarters (73 percent) of families that are planning a vacation this year are seeking a destination they have not previously visited.
  • Families are seeking R&R. When looking for these new experiences, families are choosing destinations with attractions such as beaches and mountains (61 percent), opportunities for sightseeing (59 percent) and relaxation (56 percent).

AAA’s travel experts recommend that families plan their trips with AAA’s Diamonds in mind. AAA’s professional inspectors assess nearly 59,000 hotels and restaurants across the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean to assign AAA Diamond Ratings. Every AAA Inspected & Approved hotel and restaurant is acceptable for the type of experience it provides. Ratings, from One to Five Diamonds, help travelers find the level of services, facilities and amenities they’re looking for on their vacation. Travelers can find Diamond Rated establishments in the AAA Mobile app, AAA Travel Guides and TripTik Travel Planner.

To help families even further, AAA’s inspectors have identified some of their favorite family-friendly hotels for 2018. To learn more and begin planning a trip, visit AAA.com/TravelTips.

AAA’s family travel research is the result of a telephone survey (landline and cell phone) consisting of 1,005 adults living in the continental United States. Interviewing for this survey was conducted January 26-28, 2018. This study has an average statistical error of ±7 percent at the 95 percent confidence level for all U.S. adults.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 58 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. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

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