Posts Tagged ‘AAA Survey’

Gas Prices Remain Stable Amid the Aftermath of Hurricane Florence

September 17th, 2018 by AAA Public Affairs

While Hurricane Florence battered the Carolinas over the weekend with life-threating storm-surge, rain and flooding, it has had little to no impact on gas prices, with the national average, holding steady at $2.85 on the week.

Gas prices have not seen much movement because unlike the Gulf Coast, which is home to dozens of refineries, the Carolinas house only pipelines and terminals. This means U.S. crude processing is not impacted and therefore neither are gas prices nationally.

Prior to Florence’s arrival, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported the Lower Atlantic Region’s total gasoline stocks — which includes West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida — measured at 27.9 million bbl. That is 10 percent higher than the 5-year average for this time of year.

“Gasoline stocks in the hurricane-impacted area are healthy, but delivery of gasoline will be an impediment to meeting demand in coastal areas this week,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. “As power is restored, water recedes and roads open-up, we will have a better idea of how quickly fuel deliveries can be made to gas stations in the area. And while fuel availability at stations is a concern, AAA expects station outages to be short-lived.”

According to the Department of Energy, states are working closely with industry to expedite resupply shipments to impacted areas. AAA will continue to monitor hurricane recovery efforts and fuel resupply.

  • The nation’s top 10 least expensive markets are: Alabama ($2.52), Mississippi ($2.54), Arkansas ($2.57), Louisiana ($2.58), Tennessee ($2.59), South Carolina ($2.60), Missouri ($2.60), Texas ($2.60), Virginia ($2.62) and Oklahoma ($2.64).
  • The nation’s top 10 largest monthly changes are: Colorado (+10 cents), Indiana (-6 cents), Delaware (+6 cents), Florida (-5 cents), South Carolina (+5 cents), Louisiana (-4 cents), Alaska (-4 cents), Utah (-4 cents), Iowa (+4 cents) and California (+4 cents).

Mid-Atlantic and Northeast

Hurricane Florence drove up gas prices in North Carolina (+3 cents) and Virginia (+1 cents) this past week. All other states in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast region saw prices decrease by a few cents or remained stable.

For motorists in coastal parts of North Carolina and Virginia, fuel availability post Hurricane Florence is a concern. As residents evacuated, panic-buying and tank-topping set-in, leaving some gas stations with low to no fuel at their pumps. The positive news is that Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regional gasoline inventories sit at a healthy 66.7 million bbl, which is not only the second highest inventory level recorded for the region this year, but a level not seen in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast region since March 2016. This means that the region has adequate supply on-hand, and, weather-dependent, could be a resource to assist with resupply in the hurricane-impacted area, once water levels subside, roads are passable and power is restored.

South and Southeast

Hurricane Florence pushed up South Carolina’s ($2.60) state gas price average by just a penny on the week. Otherwise, pump prices for the majority of the South and Southeast are getting cheaper or seeing no change. Florida saw the largest drop of 3-cents during the last seven days while a one-cent drop was seen in Texas, New Mexico and Louisiana.

Pipelines and terminals are located in South Carolina, but were unaffected by the storm. Those facilities deliver approximately 3 million b/d of refined products to the eastern U.S. Once delivery trucks are able to take to the roads, the South and Southeast pipelines and terminals will help with resupply to the coastal areas.

As Gulf Coast refineries have not been impacted by the hurricane, processing continues as normal. South and Southeast gasoline inventories built by 600,000 on the week, according the EIA’s latest report. Total inventories measure at 81.2 million bbl, which is a healthy level for this time of year.

Great Lakes and Central

As area refineries undergo maintenance, state gas price averages in the Great Lakes and Central region are as much as five-cents more expensive since last Monday: Iowa (+5 cents), Nebraska (+4 cents), Ohio (+4 cents), and South Dakota (+3 cents). Only Missouri ($2.61) and Kansas ($2.66) saw a drop in pump prices on the week.

Today, there is a 32-cent difference in the most expensive state gas prices in the region carried in Michigan at $2.93 and least expensive at $2.61 in Missouri.

As pump prices see relatively small volatility, gasoline inventories continue to hover at the 53.1 million bbl mark. However, with unplanned and planned maintenance at some Great Lakes and Central refineries, inventories could decline this fall.

Rockies

On the week, Utah (-2 cents) and Idaho (-1 cents) motorists are paying less to fill-up. In fact, gas price averages across the Rockies states are mostly moving toward a return to pre-summer pump prices. Here is a snapshot of state gas prices since Memorial Day, at their highest summer price and today’s price:

  State gas price average on May 24, 2018 (start of Memorial Day Weekend) Highest gas price average this summer by state State gas price average on September 17, 2018
Colorado $2.89 $2.91 $2.91
Idaho $3.17 $3.26 $3.21
Montana $2.91 $2.95 $2.95
Utah $3.15 $3.21 $3.13
Wyoming $2.87 $3.00 $2.98

As demand begins to drop in the region, gasoline inventories took a small draw and continue to hover near the 6.5 million bbl mark. Gas prices will continue to trend cheaper as demand draws into the fall.

West Coast

The West Coast remains the nation’s most expensive region for retail gasoline, with six of the region’s states represented in the nation’s top 10 most expensive list. Hawaii ($3.77) is the nation’s most expensive market, followed by California ($3.64), Washington ($3.38), Alaska ($3.31), Oregon ($3.26), Nevada ($3.20) and Arizona ($2.87). Prices in the region remain relatively flat compared to last week, except for a one-cent jump in California and Arizona.

The EIA’s weekly petroleum status report showed West Coast motor gasoline stocks totaled 28.4 million bbl during the week that ended on September 7 – a gain of 100,000 bbl from the previous week. Stocks are 1.3 million bbl lower than where they were at this time last year, which could support a price spike if supplies remain low amid an increase in demand.

Oil market dynamics

At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI increased 40 cents to settle at $68.99. Oil prices have edged higher last week following the release of the EIA’s weekly petroleum report that showed crude stocks fell by 5.3 million bbl last week. If supplies fall again in this week’s report, crude prices could climb further. Dwindling supplies have put a spotlight on shrinking global crude inventories, which could cause oil prices to push to $70-$80/bbl this fall. Continued decline in crude production from Venezuela and anticipated reduced crude exports from Iran due to U.S.-imposed sanctions that go into effect in November could place greater pressure on the market. In the near term, U.S. crude production has not been impacted by Hurricane Florence, as there were no refineries in Florence’s path.

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: New Cars Lose $3,000 Annually from this Single Expense

September 13th, 2018 by AAA Public Affairs

Drivers should keep resale value top of mind when buying a new vehicle

ORLANDO, Fla. (Sep. 13, 2018) – AAA’s 2018 Your Driving Costs study reveals the largest expense associated with purchasing a new car is something many drivers fail to consider – depreciation. In fact, it accounts for almost 40 percent of the cost of owning a new vehicle – more than $3,000 per year – and is influenced by a number of factors, including shifting consumer preferences. AAA urges car buyers to think about both market trends and length of ownership when shopping for their next vehicle purchase. 

“New vehicles offer the latest designs, cutting-edge technologies and warranties that offer peace of mind,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “But, car owners that like to change vehicles frequently should be thinking about the resale value – not just the purchase price – when choosing their next ride.”

Additional Resources

AAA’s annual analysis found demand for sedans has slipped as American appetite shifts to SUVs and pickup trucks. As a result, depreciation costs of these once-popular vehicles increased up to 13 percent as compared to last year. Electric and hybrid vehicles, however, have seen a gain in popularity with 20 percent of Americans saying they will likely go electric for their next vehicle purchase, up from 15 percent the previous year. This year, these vehicles also saw a dip in depreciation and offer many cost benefits such as lower repair and maintenance bills, making going green a more affordable choice than in years past.

Buyers often only give priority to purchase price and monthly payment when choosing a new car, sometimes selecting a vehicle based on the best deal available. The length of car ownership, however, is of equal importance. Consumers who plan to keep a vehicle for only a few years should be cautious of deep discounts and incentives offered by automakers and dealers. These are often designed to sell less popular models and directly influence depreciation. Low down payments and extended finance terms can also have a similar effect. Stretching a car loan over five, six or even seven years may be an effective way to lower payments, but owners may quickly find themselves owing more than the vehicle is worth.

Leasing is similarly affected since payments are based in part on the projected residual value of the car at the end of the lease, serving as a good indicator of which models experience higher or lower depreciation. Since resale value is not a factor at the end of the lease period, buyers who prefer less popular models or only want a vehicle for a short time, may consider leasing a more viable option.

“The secret to minimizing depreciation costs?” continued Nielsen. “Keep your car for a long time and keep it well-maintained or even consider buying a quality, pre-owned vehicle.”

AAA’s Your Driving Costs found the average cost to own and operate a new vehicle in 2018 is $8,849 per year. The figure is calculated based on the cost of fuel, maintenance, repairs, insurance, license/registration/taxes, depreciation and loan interest. The study examined 45 top-selling 2018 model-year vehicles across the following nine categories.

Vehicle Type Annual Cost*
Small Sedan $6,777
Hybrid $7,485
Small SUV $7,869
Electric Vehicle $8,384
Medium Sedan $8,866
Minivan $9,677
Medium SUV $9,697
Large Sedan $9,804
Pickup Truck $10,215
Average $8,849

*Based on 15,000 miles driven annually

While the latest technology, style and options make them attractive to car buyers, a new car may not be the most economical choice for some buyers. Vehicle owners looking for alternatives to new car ownership or ways to minimize their operating costs should consider the following:

  • Buy (gently) used – By driving a pre-owned vehicle in good condition, ownership costs are significantly lower. A safe, reliable vehicle can be found at an attractive price point.
  • Fuel responsibly – Avoid wasting money on premium grade gasoline unless your vehicle specifically requires it and, if you’re one of the 20 percent of Americans considering an electric car, these vehicles offer lower fuel and maintenance costs.
  • Show your car some love – It sounds counterintuitive, but spending money on routine maintenance can actually save you money in the end. To keep engines running cleaner and longer, consider switching to synthetic oil and upgrading to a higher quality fuel TOP TIER™ gasoline.
  • Slow down – When gas prices are high, small changes in the way you drive can make a big difference.

AAA’s Your Driving Costs study employs a proprietary methodology to analyze the costs of owning and operating a new vehicle in the United States, using data from a variety of sources, including Vincentric LLC. Additional information and detailed driving costs, including those for fuel, maintenance, repairs, insurance, license/registration/taxes, depreciation and finance charges can be found at NewsRoom.AAA.com or AAA.com/YourDrivingCosts.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 59 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.

 

AAA advises drivers to save $50 per month for car care fund

ORLANDO, Fla. (April 4, 2017) – According to a new AAA survey, 64 million American drivers would not be able to pay for an unexpected vehicle repair without going into debt, indicating that some drivers may underestimate the full cost of owning and operating a vehicle. Because some car repairs are unavoidable, and the average repair bill is between $500 and $600, AAA urges drivers to save at least $50 a month for unforeseen expenses, and identify a trusted repair facility before trouble strikes.

Additional Resources

“The average cost of owning and operating a vehicle is more than $8,500 a year, and AAA has found that millions of Americans are failing to set aside a car care fund to pay for the upkeep of their cars,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “To avoid a surprise down the road, drivers should budget for monthly payments, insurance premiums, fuel costs and the inevitable expenses of routine maintenance and repair.”

Although an average repair bill can set a driver back up to $600, the cost can soar higher when a vehicle has been poorly maintained. A previous AAA survey found that one-third of U.S. drivers skip or delay recommended service or repairs, which increases the likelihood of unexpected mechanical failures and leaves a vehicle more vulnerable to roadside breakdown. In 2016 alone, AAA responded to nearly 32 million stranded motorists.

“Anticipating your vehicle’s needs before problems strike is important,” continued Nielsen. “While it may seem that skipping maintenance and repairs can save money in the short term, staying on top of car care can save drivers hundreds of dollars in the long run.”  

Before a breakdown happens, AAA recommends that vehicle owners:

  • Follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule to avoid roadside trouble.
  • Identify a repair shop you trust. A recent AAA survey found that one-third of U.S. drivers have yet to find a trusted repair facility. Visit com/autorepair to locate a AAA Approved Auto Repair facility near you.

If faced with an unexpected repair, AAA suggests that drivers:

  • Get a written estimate for the repair and clarify with the shop the work that needs to be done on the vehicle Consider getting a second opinion to confirm the diagnosis.
  • Negotiate the repair bill with the mechanic. Ask if the shop offers any discounts or payment plans that can reduce immediate out-of-pocket costs.

The AAA Approved Auto Repair (AAR) network consists of nearly 7,000 facilities that have met AAA’s high standards, including, technician certifications, ongoing training, financial stability, facility cleanliness, insurance requirements, rigorous inspections and customer satisfaction. AAA members are eligible for special benefits at AAR facilities, including priority service, a 24-month/24,000-mile warranty, discounts, free maintenance inspections, dispute resolution assistance and more. To locate an AAR shop in your area, visit AAA.com/autorepair.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 57 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.

Tamra JohnsonGas prices are on the move, reaching an average price of $2.33 per gallon for regular unleaded gasoline. Today’s price is four cents more than a week ago, one cent more compared to one month ago and 27 cents more than the same date last year. National gas prices have increased six of the last seven days. Although the increase in prices has been moderate, it is possible this trend could continue as refinery maintenance wraps up, more expensive summer-blend gasoline becomes available and driving demand increases this spring.  

Quick Stats

  • The nation’s top ten least expensive markets are: South Carolina ($2.04), Tennessee ($2.08), Mississippi ($2.08), Alabama ($2.09), Oklahoma ($2.10), Arkansas ($2.10), Missouri ($2.11), Louisiana ($2.12), Virginia ($2.13) and Texas ($2.15). 
  • The nation’s top ten markets with the largest weekly increases include: Ohio (+18 cents), Michigan (+16 cents), Indiana (+14 cents), Illinois (+11 cents), Wisconsin (+7 cents), Delaware (+7 cents), West Virginia (+6 cents), Kentucky (+5 cents), Oregon (+5 cents) and Georgia (+5 cents).

 

West Coast

Gas prices on the West Coast remain the highest in the country, with six states in the region topping the list of most expensive U.S. markets: Hawaii ($3.05), California ($2.98), Washington ($2.86), Alaska ($2.78), Oregon ($2.72) and Nevada ($2.66). Prices in the Northwest and California will continue to rise in the coming weeks due to refinery maintenance.

BP started planned maintenance at its 236,000-b/d Cherry Point refinery in Ferndale, Washington, last week, while PBF Energy restarted the hydrotreater unit at its 157,800-b/d refinery in Torrance, California, due to unplanned flaring last Monday. This week, the refinery begins major maintenance work which is expected to last 45-55 days and will likely tighten supply and increase California gas prices. Today, BP is also shutting down operations on its Olympic Pipeline until April 10 for planned maintenance. The shutdown will temporarily impact shipments of gasoline in the northern part of the region.

Rockies

Drivers in the Rockies are among the only ones in the nation to see moderate price declines. Prices in the region are often geographically insulated from movement tied to global crude oil prices and have generally been among the more stable in the nation.

Great Lakes and Central States

The Great Lakes and Central States are currently switching from winter-blend to summer-blend gasoline and drivers are seeing significant increases at the pump, with Ohio (+18 cents), Michigan (+16 cents), Indiana (+14 cents), Illinois (+11 cents), Wisconsin (+7 cents) and Kentucky (+5 cents) landing on the list of top 10 weekly increases.

Unplanned mechanical repairs and pipeline issues at Valero’s 172,000-b/d McKee and 103,000-b/d Houston refineries in the Texas Panhandle are impacting delivery and tightening supply in the Midwest region.

South and Southeast

Markets in the South and Southeast continue to post some of the lowest prices for retail gasoline in the nation, including South Carolina ($2.04), Tennessee ($2.08), Mississippi ($2.08), Alabama ($2.09), Louisiana ($2.12) and Texas ($2.15).

ExxonMobil’s 584,000-b/d Baytown, Texas refinery experienced operational issues last week due to severe weather. Valero also reports pipeline issues and unplanned mechanical repairs at both its 172,000-b/d McKee and 103,000-b/d Houston refineries, which has tightened supply in the Dallas area. OPIS reports that during past fuel-supply problems, the market pulled barrels of gasoline from Tyler, Texas and can also receive supply via pipeline from Corpus Christi.

Mid-Atlantic and Northeast

Prices in much of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions have followed the national average the past week with Delaware (+7 cents), West Virginia (+6 cents) and Maryland (+4 cents), all landing on the list of largest weekly increases. The latest report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) shows that regional gasoline storage levels dropped by 2.6 million bbl, the largest decline in the country. The region will switch from winter-blend to summer-blend gasoline by April 10 and drivers will continue to see increases at the pump.

Oil Market Dynamics

This morning, the market saw a bump following reports that Iraq plans to increase its production cut compliance as a part of OPEC’s output agreement. This announcement furthered speculation that OPEC and non-OPEC producers may extend their agreement beyond the original six-month deadline of June. The oil reduction deal was brokered last fall in an attempt to rebalance the global oil supply and boost the price of crude oil. While the agreement has lifted the price of crude oil to $50 per barrel, it has also encouraged U.S. producers to invest and drill more. Oil service company Baker Hughes reported that the U.S. increased its rig count by 10 last week, bringing the total to 662. Traders will keep a close eye on discussions between OPEC and non-OPEC producers and any decisions they make regarding further production cuts through the remainder of 2017.  At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI was up 25 cents to settle at $50.60 per barrel.

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 JohnsonNew AAA Survey Reveals Impact of Rising Gas Prices on Consumers’ Lifestyle

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Mar. 28, 2017) – A new AAA survey reveals that nearly a quarter of consumers believe the price at the pump is already too high. AAA projects the national average for a gallon of gasoline to increase 40 cents this summer, peaking near $2.70. To offset gas price increases, more than 70 percent of consumers say they would make everyday lifestyle or driving habit changes. The top five changes drivers would make include:

Additional Resources

  • Infographic 1 | 2 | 3
  • Combining errands or trips
  • Driving less
  • Reducing shopping or dining out
  • Delaying major purchases
  • Carpooling

However, not everyone will jump to make a change. The survey found that younger Americans (18-34) are more tolerant of higher prices.

“Higher gas prices are already influencing the travel industry,” said Bill Sutherland, AAA senior vice president of Travel and Publishing. “The good news is people are still planning to hit the road. With nearly 80 percent of family travelers planning a road trip this year, higher gas prices are making shorter trips to national parks and theme parks the most desired travel destinations.”

During April, Americans across the country will start to see gas prices begin to climb as the industry wraps up spring maintenance and completes the switchover to summer-blend gasoline. Over the years, public opinion for whether a gallon of gasoline would be too much or too cheap has fluctuated as much as the price itself.

  • When gas prices are above the $3.00 benchmark (as they were in 2013 and 2014), most Americans believe prices should be six percent lower.
  • When gas prices are below the $3.00 benchmark (as they were in 2015 and 2016), most Americans believe a 25 percent increase is too high.

This report presents the findings of a telephone survey conducted among two national probability samples (landline only and cell phone), which, when combined, consists of 1,017 adults, 510 men and 507 women, 18 years of age and older, living in the continental United States. Interviewing for this survey was completed on February 2-5, 2017. 517 interviews were from the landline sample and 500 interviews from the cell phone sample. This study has an average statistical error of ±3.1 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 57 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.

Tamra Johnson

Today’s national average price at the pump is $2.29 per gallon.  This is the same price as compared to one month ago, but just fractions of a penny below one week ago and 25 cents per gallon more than the same date last year.  The average pump price has decreased nine of the past 10 days.

On Sunday, a joint committee of ministers representing OPEC and non-OPEC countries asked the OPEC Secretariat to examine the market and consider a possible production cut extension beyond the original six- month agreement. Last year, OPEC and non-OPEC countries agreed to cut their output by 1.8 million barrels a day for six months starting in January 2017. The Secretariat is expected to provide a recommendation in April, well before the current agreement is set to expire in June.

Quick Stats

  • The nation’s markets that have seen the largest yearly increases in gas prices are: Washington (+56 cents), Utah (+51 cents), Oregon (+50 cents), Hawaii (+49 cents), Alaska (+49 cents), Idaho (+48 cents), New Jersey (+46 cents), Montana (+38 cents), New Mexico (+34 cents) and Pennsylvania (+34 cents).
  • The nation’s markets that have the least expensive weekly gas prices include: South Carolina ($2.02), Tennessee ($2.04), Alabama ($2.05), Mississippi ($2.05), Oklahoma ($2.06), Missouri ($2.07) Arkansas ($2.07), Virginia ($2.10), Louisiana ($2.10) and Texas ($2.11).

West Coast

Prices on the West Coast remain flat, with six states topping the list of most expensive markets: Hawaii ($3.07), California ($2.98), Washington ($2.84), Alaska ($2.79), Oregon ($2.67) and Nevada ($2.65). The West Coast is also home to some of the largest year over year price increases: Washington (+56 cents), Oregon (+50 cents), Hawaii (+49 cents) and Alaska (+49 cents). The latest Energy Information Administration (EIA) report shows that despite a nearly five percent increase in refinery utilization, gasoline inventories in the region dropped 428,000 bbl to 28.599 million bbl last week.

Rockies

Drivers in the Rockies have not seen much movement at the pump this week, with prices moving +/- 2 cents or less in most markets. The region historically has been among the more stable in the nation due to its insulated location. However, supply issues resulting from problems on the Wahsatch Pipeline earlier this year has landed Utah (+51 cents), Idaho (+48 cents) and Montana (+38 cents), on the top 10 list of largest yearly increases.

Great Lakes and Central States

Drivers in the Great Lakes and Central regions saw the largest discounts at the pump last week, with seven states topping the list of largest weekly declines: Ohio (-7 cents), Michigan (-7 cents), Indiana (-6 cents), Missouri (-4 cents), Illinois (-3 cents), Iowa (-3 cents) and Kentucky (-2 cents). OPIS reports that the region has been clearing its system of high-RVP gasoline in preparation for the switch to lower RVP summer blend gasoline next month. The switch will mean higher prices at the pump for drivers in both regions.

Mid-Atlantic and Northeast

Prices in much of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast remain relatively steady on the week with Pennsylvania ($2.48) and Washington D.C. ($2.45) both landing on the list of top 10 most expensive markets. Regional gasoline inventories remain low as the region continues to remove winter-grade gasoline from the system. Pump prices in the region will likely begin to climb around April 10, when gasoline RVP in the New York market makes the official shift to summer-grade blends.

South and Southeast

Drivers in the South and Southeast regions continue to enjoy the lowest prices at the pump with six states landing on the nation’s list of cheapest retail markets: South Carolina ($2.02), Alabama ($2.05), Mississippi ($2.05), Arkansas ($2.07), Louisiana ($2.10) and Texas ($2.11). The latest EIA report shows that regional gasoline inventories remained steady last week while refinery utilization rates increased three percent. OPIS reports that the increases will help stabilize gasoline supply as refineries wrap-up spring maintenance and prepare for the busy summer refining season.

Oil Market Dynamics

Today the market opened posting losses, as traders doubt the ability of OPEC and other major oil producers to rebalance the market. OPEC’s recent announcement to consider extending production cuts follows news from EIA showing a crude oil build of 5 million barrels for the week ending March 17. That increase brings U.S. inventory levels to a total of 533.1 million barrels. Additionally, Baker Hughes’ reports that the U.S. added 21 oil rigs last week, bringing the country’s total rig count to 652.

The combination of OPEC efforts to rebalance the market and increased U.S. production continues to put pressure on crude oil futures, holding prices below $50 a barrel. Next month, market watchers will pay close attention to the OPEC Secretariat’s upcoming recommendations on whether to extend production cuts beyond June. At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI was up 27 cents to settle at $47.97 per barrel.

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.

ErinSteppNew AAA survey reveals that Americans still leery of a driverless future

ORLANDO, Fla. (March 7, 2017) – A new report from AAA reveals that the majority of U.S. drivers seek autonomous technologies in their next vehicle, but they continue to fear the fully self-driving car. Despite the prospect that autonomous vehicles will be safer, more efficient and more convenient than their human-driven counterparts, three-quarters of U.S. drivers report feeling afraid to ride in a self-driving car, and only 10 percent report that they’d actually feel safer sharing the roads with driverless vehicles. As automakers press forward in the development of autonomous vehicles, AAA urges the gradual, safe introduction of these technologies to ensure that American drivers are informed, prepared and comfortable with this shift in mobility.

Additional Resources

“A great race towards autonomy is underway and companies are vying to introduce the first driverless cars to our roadways,” said Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering and Industry Relations. “However, while U.S. drivers are eager to buy vehicles equipped with autonomous technology, they continue to fear a fully self-driving vehicle.”

In 2016, a AAA survey found that three-quarters of Americans reported feeling afraid to ride in a self-driving car. One year later, a new AAA survey found that fear is unchanged. While the majority are afraid to ride in a fully self-driving vehicle, the latest survey also found that the majority (59%) of Americans are keen to have autonomous features in their next vehicle. This marked contrast suggests that American drivers are ready embrace autonomous technology, but they are not yet ready to give up full control.

“U.S. drivers may experience the driver assistance technologies in their cars today and feel they don’t work consistently enough to replace a human driver – and they’re correct,” continued Brannon. “While these technologies will continue to improve over time, it’s important that consumers understand that today’s systems require your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel.”

Additional survey findings include:

  • Half (54%) of U.S. drivers feel less safe at the prospect of sharing the road with a self-driving vehicle, while one-third (34%) feel it wouldn’t make a difference and only 10 percent say they would feel safer.
    • Women (58%) are more likely to feel less safe than men (49%).
    • Baby Boomers (60%) are more likely to feel less safe than Generation X (56%) or Millennials (41%)
  • The majority (59%) of U.S. drivers want autonomous vehicle technology in their next vehicle, while the remainder do not (25%) or are unsure (16%).
    • Millennials (70%) are the most likely to want the technologies, compared to Generation X (54%) and Baby Boomers (51%).
  • Three-quarters (78%) of Americans are afraid to ride in a self-driving vehicle.
    • Baby Boomers (85%) are more likely to be afraid than Millennials (73%) and Generation X (75%) drivers.
    • Women (85%) are more likely to be afraid than men (69%).

To educate consumers on the effectiveness of emerging vehicle technologies, AAA is committed to the on-going, unbiased testing of automated vehicle technologies. Previous testing of automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, self-parking technology and lane keeping systems has shown both great promise and great variation. This variation may be particularly concerning to consumers, with AAA’s survey revealing that 81 percent of Americans feel that automated vehicle systems should all work similarly and consistently across all vehicle manufacturers. Future AAA testing will look at how well systems work together to achieve higher levels of automation.

“Every year, we lose approximately 35,000 people on America’s roadways, most as a result of human error,” said Jill Ingrassia, AAA’s managing director of Government Relations and Traffic Safety. “Connected and automated vehicle technologies have the potential to dramatically reduce this number, and automakers, government agencies and safety organizations like AAA must continue working together to ensure that these new vehicles are safely tested and deployed.”

For additional information about the survey, including a fact sheet and infographics, visit NewsRoom.AAA.com.

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. 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.

Most U.S. Drivers Leery of Auto Repair Shops

December 1st, 2016 by Jessica Souto

AAA advises that finding a trusted mechanic is more important than ever

ORLANDO, Fla. (December 1, 2016) – According to a new AAA survey, two out of three U.S. drivers do not trust auto repair shops in general – citing overcharges, recommendations for unnecessary services and poor past experiences for their lack of confidence. However, the survey also reveals that the majority (64 percent) of U.S. drivers have singled out an auto repair shop that they do trust, suggesting that consumers have prioritized finding a reliable mechanic in an industry with imperfect reputation. AAA urges all drivers to identify a reputable repair facility well before one is needed.

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“To minimize the stress associated with vehicle repair and maintenance, it is critical that drivers find an honest repair shop that they can trust with their vehicle,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “AAA found that one-third of U.S. drivers – 75 million motorists in total – have yet to find a trusted repair facility, leaving them vulnerable when trouble strikes.”

With today’s cars collecting a variety of data about the health of the vehicle, drivers need a trusted repair facility more than ever. “Connected cars” with built-in diagnostic capabilities can alert drivers to vehicle trouble and help repair shops quickly and accurately address issues. Unsurprisingly, given concerns around data security, AAA found that the majority of U.S. drivers want the ability to direct their vehicle’s data to the repair shop of their choice – the trusted facility with whom they have built a relationship.

Additional findings from the survey include:

  • The top reasons that U.S. drivers do not trust repair shops are:
    • Recommending unnecessary services (76 percent)
    • Overcharging for services (73 percent)
    • Negative past experiences (63 percent)
    • Concerns that the work will not be done correctly (49 percent)
  • Older drivers are more likely to trust auto repair shops than younger drivers.
    • Baby Boomers are twice as likely than younger generations to fully trust auto repair facilities in general, with one-in-five reporting they “totally trust” the industry.
    • Baby Boomers (76 percent) are also more likely to have a chosen auto repair shop that they trust compared to Millennials (55 percent) and Gen-Xers (56 percent).

“As a service to our members and the general public, the AAA Approved Auto Repair program is designed to help drivers identify trustworthy repair shops,” Nielsen continued. “Facilities meet AAA standards by undergoing a rigorous investigation conducted by Automotive Service Excellence certified inspectors, including quarterly inspections and annual re-certifications that ensures high professional standards for technical training, equipment, cleanliness and customer service. Plus, if something does go wrong, AAA steps in to arbitrate any issues on behalf of its members.”

To find a trustworthy auto repair shop, AAA suggests that drivers:

  • Look for a repair shop before issues occur. Ask family and friends for recommendations and visit AAA.com/autorepair to locate an AAA Approved Auto Repair facility near you.
  • Research potential repair shops and find out how long they have been in business. This can be a good indicator of shop quality. Also, look into how they deal with consumer complaints. The Better Business Bureau, State Department of Consumer Affairs or attorney general’s office can provide those complaints.
  • Visit the auto repair shop for a minor job such as an oil change or tire rotation. While waiting, talk with shop employees and inspect the shop’s appearance, amenities, technician credentials, and parts and labor warranty. If you find the service to be good, stick with them. Build a relationship with the technician so they can get to know you and your vehicle.

AAA’s Approved Auto Repair (AAR) program was created more than 35 years ago and includes nearly 7,000 facilities across North America. Once a shop meets AAA’s high standards, including certifications, technical training, cleanliness, insurance requirements, it becomes part of the AAR program where it’s re-inspected annually and monitored for customer satisfaction. AAA members receive several unique benefits by selecting an AAR facility, including priority service, a 24-month/24,000-mile warranty, discounts on repairs, free inspections, AAA assistance with dispute resolutions and more.

For additional information about the survey, including a fact sheet and infographics, visit NewsRoom.AAA.com.

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. 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.

Tamra JohnsonNew AAA Foundation report reveals habits and characteristics of the American driver

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Sept. 8, 2016)- American drivers spend an average of more than 17,600 minutes behind the wheel each year, according to a new survey from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The research finds that more than 87.5 percent of Americans aged 16 years and older reported driving in the past year. During this time, drivers travelled nearly 10,900 miles on average and spent more than 290 hours on the road.

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“The amount of time the average driver spends behind the wheel each year is equivalent to seven 40-hour weeks at the office,” says Jurek Grabowski, research director for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “It’s clear that traveling by car remains a central part of American’s lives.”

The American Driving Survey is the most current and comprehensive look at how much Americans drive on a daily and yearly basis. It revealed that Americans drove a total of 2.45 trillion miles last year, which is a 2.4 percent increase from 2014. Other survey findings show that:

  • On average, men report driving 2,314 more miles than women per year and spend 18 percent more time behind the wheel.
  • More than 86 percent of U.S. households have at least one car for every driver in the home and 28 percent report having more cars than drivers.
  • Seniors over the age of 75 drive fewer miles (5,840 annually) than teenagers (7,551 annually). Drivers ages 30-49 drive an average of 13,506 miles annually, more than any other age group.
  • Drivers who report living in rural areas drive more miles (13,029 annually) compared to drivers who live in cities or towns (10,571 annually).
  • Motorists in the Midwest and Southern regions drive more (11,295 miles annually) compared to those in the Northeast (9,328 miles annually).
  • More than 50 percent of miles driven by Americans are done in cars, followed by SUVs (20 percent), pickup trucks (17 percent) and vans (7.9 percent). Men report doing a much greater share of their driving in pickup trucks compared to women who report doing most of their driving in cars and SUVs.
  • Over 66 percent of total driving trips and nearly 62 percent of total miles driven are done by drivers without a passenger in the vehicle. Women are 24 percent more likely than men to have a passenger in the vehicle on any given trip.
  • On average, Americans drive the most during the fall (October through December) at 31.5 miles daily and drive the least during the winter (January through March) at 26.2 miles daily.

The new survey results are part of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s annual American Driving Survey, which reveals the driving habits of the American public. The survey data are from a sample of 5,774 drivers who provided information about their daily driving trips in calendar years 2014 and 2015. The AAA Foundation released their first American Driving Survey in 2015.

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.

Erin SteppTests show headlights lights may fail to safely illuminate dark roadways

ORLANDO, Fla., (May 13, 2015) – New test results from AAA reveal the potential for significant headlight shortcomings when traveling on roadways that lack overhead lighting, typically America’s rural roads, which account for 40 percent of vehicle miles traveled annually. To assess headlight capabilities and limitations and learn what, if any, advantage advanced headlight technologies offer, AAA compared the performance of halogen, high intensity discharge (HID) and light emitting diode (LED) headlights. AAA’s test results suggest that halogen headlights, found in over 80 percent of vehicles on the road today, may fail to safely illuminate unlit roadways at speeds as low as 40 mph.

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The testing, conducted with the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center, measured the distances at which modern headlights illuminate non-reflective objects on both low-beam and high-beam settings. These findings, paired with guidelines issued by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, indicate that when traveling on unlit roadways, today’s headlights fail to light the full distance necessary for a driver to detect an object or obstacle in the roadway, react and come to a complete stop.

“AAA’s test results reveal that headlights found in U.S. vehicles fall short on safety,” said Megan McKernan, manager of the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center. “By failing to properly light roadways at moderate speeds, a pedestrian or animal may not become visible to a driver until it’s too late to stop.”

While high-beam settings on halogen headlights improved sight distances by 28 percent at the testing facility, in real-world conditions they may only provide enough light to safely stop at speeds of up to 48 mph, leaving drivers vulnerable at highway speeds. Despite the clear need for the additional visibility that high-beams offer, particularly on unlit roads, a recent AAA survey found that only a third of Americans admit to using these settings regularly.

Additional testing found that while the advanced headlight technology found in HID and LED headlights illuminated dark roadways 25 percent further than their halogen counter parts, they still may fail to fully illuminate roadways at speeds greater than 45 mph. High-beam settings on these advanced headlights offered significant improvement over low-beam settings, lighting distances of up to 500 feet (equal to 55 mph). Despite the increase, even the most advanced headlights fall 60 percent short of the sight distances that the full light of day provides.

“While it’s encouraging to see the safety benefit that newer headlight technology offers to drivers, there’s still room for improvement,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director, Automotive Engineering and Repair. “Unlike the more advanced headlight technology available in European vehicles, current government regulations limit the light output for vehicles sold in the United States. AAA looks forward to working with U.S. policy makers to ensure federal regulations keep up with changing technology.”

In addition to testing low-beam and high-beam headlight performance, AAA tested the effect that deteriorated headlight lenses have on light intensity and glare. The protective coating used on the plastics of modern lenses can slowly deteriorate and cloud after about five years, reducing light output and increasing light scatter which results in glare for other drivers.  The testing found that restoring headlights doubles the maximum light intensity and reduces glare-producing light scatter by up to 60 percent.  Yet, according to a recent AAA survey, only 20 percent of Americans have performed this service.

“Deteriorated or dirty headlight lenses are not just an aesthetic issue,” warned Nielsen. “An annual service on older vehicles will increase your nighttime visibility and minimize distracting glare for fellow drivers.”

To learn more about AAA’s vehicle testing series, designed to educate and inform AAA members, the automotive industry and the general public, visit NewsRoom.AAA.com.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 55 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.

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