Summer Driving is the Deadliest Time for Teens

Memorial Day marks the beginning of the ‘100 Deadliest Days’ – a period of time when teens experience the most fatal car wrecks.

Over the past five years, more than 5,000 people have been killed during this period.

Tiffany Wright works with AAA Carolinas. This year, the company conducted a survey that found 60% of teen crashes involve distracted driving.

“The 100 Deadliest Days, it’s an important time to remind everybody to have those conversations with their teens, obey traffic safety laws and eliminate as many distractions as you can behind the wheel,” Wright said.

Wright says crashes involving teen drivers increase during the summer months for several reasons. A combination of more drivers on the road, a lack of experience behind the wheel and increased distractions all contribute to the uptick in fatal wrecks.

“When you talk about cell phone use, you’re increasing your chances anywhere from 25-30% higher of being in a wreck.”

But even though teens know they aren’t supposed to text and drive, Wright says nothing’s changed. 50% of teens admitted to reading or sending text messages while driving in the past 30 days.

“I think it’s pretty scary that teen drivers, now a days, they all admit that they know that texting and driving is wrong but they still admit to doing that.”

AAA’s report analyzed 2,200 videos of crashes and concluded the top reasons for distracted driving include talking to other passengers, cell phone use and looking at something in the vehicle.

Since 2010, 16,662 people in North Carolina have been injured in teen distracted driving related crashes. Wright’s advice to stay safe during the summer months is simple.

“It’s very easy. Pull off to the side of the road, get to a safe spot, then do what you need to do.”

She also urges parents to set a good example for their teens and refrain from distracted driving.

They see mom and dad doing it and they say they can do it. ‘I’m young, I’ve got fast reflexes, I can multi task.’”

And for everyone else, she asks for patience.

“You know during this time there’s going to be more teens on the road, so be a little bit more patient. Teens aren’t as experienced behind the wheel.”

Wright warns that the 100 Deadliest Days aren’t only for teens, and that everyone in the community should be on their guard.

“It’s dangerous for everyone. It’s not just the teens behind the wheel, but it’s also the lives they’re endangering on the road.”

With texting increasing the risk of a crash by 23 times, Wright says it’s worth it to ‘disconnect and drive.’

AAA: Labor Day Travel To Hit 7-Year High

North Carolina will see the highest number of Labor Day travelers in nearly a decade, according to AAA Carolinas.

Spokesperson Tiffany Wright says low gas prices could be fueling that wanderlust.

“Folks are going to see the lowest prices they’ve seen in 11 years,” says Wright. “Right now the statewide average is about $2.22 per gallon. It’s gone down seven cents in a week and 43 cents since July 4. We’ve seen the downward trend here. Motorists right now are paying $1.10 less per gallon than they were the same time a year ago for Labor Day.”

More than 880,000 people are expected to hit the road over the long holiday weekend. Myrtle Beach, Greensboro, Orlando, Gatlinberg and Asheville are the top travel destinations for drivers.

While gas prices are dropping, hotel rates are headed up. Wright says room rates are rising between 2 percent and 10 percent compared to last year.

“I think a lot of it has to do with the demand,” says Wright. “When you talk about gas prices and you have more people traveling, especially driving, you have a lot of hotels trying to be competitive. It’s all about competition in the market.”

This Labor Day, hotel rates are estimated to be higher than in any of the past five years.

If you’re heading out for one last road trip before summer ends, you can expect to see checkpoints and stepped-up police patrols, as law enforcement officials conduct this year’s “Booze It and Lose It” campaign to get intoxicated drivers off the road.

You won’t see much construction on the highways, as the North Carolina Department of Transportation is suspending work on current projects until 9 o’clock Tuesday morning.

AAA: Gas Price Drop Means Record Number of Christmas Travelers

A record number of nearly 3 million North Carolina residents will hit the road for the year-end holiday season, according to AAA Carolinas.

The recent Thanksgiving break also resulted in big travel numbers, and for the same reason: Low gas prices. And now, they’re even lower.

The 2,939,500 estimated drivers that will travel 50 miles or more for the Christmas/New Year’s holiday represent an increase of 113,000 compared to last year.

And 91 percent of total travelers plan to drive to their destination.

“Right now, we are paying 81 cents less than we were a year ago,” said Tiffany Wright, public relations manager for AAA Carolinas. “And I think that’s impressive. I don’t think people are focusing on that enough. And if you look at the drop, you’re talking about nearly 35 cents it’s dropped in a month; and about anywhere from 10-to-15 cents it has in a week. So, we’re really in a freefall, and I think that’s what folks need to focus on.”

The global supply has gone way up, thanks to record U.S. oil production, which has brought gas prices down to less than $60 per barrel.

Here in North Carolina, the average price is $2.48 per gallon for the Christmas holiday, compared to $2.77 per gallon over Thanksgiving.

Last Christmas, the average price was $3.23 per gallon, according to AAA figures.

With more travel, unfortunately, there are more accidents, and fatalities. Forty-two people died on North Carolina roads around this time last year. That’s five more than in 2012.

Wright has what she calls some “common-sense” advice for people driving far to spend time with loved ones.

“I can’t stress enough the importance of buckling up; avoiding drinking and driving, and of course, speeding,” said Wright.

She also advises drivers to add 15 minutes of extra time per hour when planning a holiday road trip, especially if the plan includes driving between the peak period of 3-to-5 p.m.

Low Gas Prices Fueling High Thanksgiving Traffic

Reporting by Blake Hodge.

Thanksgiving week is here, and that means many residents of the Tar Heel state are visiting family. AAA Carolinas spokesperson Tiffany Wright says you will have quite a bit of company on North Carolina’s thoroughfares over the Thanksgiving holiday.

“There will be about 1.2 million travelers on the road in North Carolina,” Wright says. “That’s an increase of about 48,000 from last year. Travelers that will be traveling 50 miles or more from home, 90% of those will be on the road.”

Wright says prices at the gas pump continuing to drop has allowed more residents to travel the highways visiting family.

“It’s impressive,” she says. “Look back to Labor Day: in fact we’re down $0.57 than we were paying from Labor Day. So motorists have a lot more money in their wallets to spend during this holiday season.”

Travelers making their way across North Carolina will see the highest gas prices in Asheville, at $2.92 per gallon. The Charlotte-Gastonia area, however, has the lowest prices in the state, at $2.73 per gallon. If you are travelling out of the state, many of North Carolina’s neighbors have prices very similar, in some cases even slightly lower, than the Tar Heel state.

Wright adds that the Thanksgiving period technically runs from Wednesday through Sunday. “The day before Thanksgiving, that Wednesday, is the worst traffic day of the year,” she says. “If you don’t have to leave on Wednesday, try and leave before Wednesday. If you do have to leave on Wednesday, try and leave before 2 PM, or – if you can afford to stay a little bit later at home – wait until after 7 PM.”

The congestion on the roadways can turn the highways deadly, as 12 people died last year over the Thanksgiving period in crashes on North Carolina Highways.

NC Gas Prices Could Drop To Four-Year Low

Gas prices have been falling in the past month, and AAA Carolinas spokesperson Tiffany Wright says they may drop even lower in the weeks to come.

“We’re seeing a ten-cent drop in a week, a 19-cent drop in a month,” says Wright. “So the prices are falling right now, and that’s always a positive for motorists.”

The state average is $3.11 per gallon but in Hillsborough some stations have already dropped to $2.99.

While prices could rise slightly in anticipation of Thanksgiving travel, Wright says it’s possible the entire state could see gas below $3.00 per gallon before long.

“Before we reach Thanksgiving, I think we will reach a statewide average of below $3.00,” says Wright. “That is barring anything catastrophic happening, but right now we’re in a really good spot as far as gas prices are concerned.”

A drop in crude prices combined with decreased demand and the seasonal switch to a cheaper, cold weather fuel blend are all contributing to the price break.

The last time the statewide average dropped below $3.00 per gallon was in December 2010.

NC Gas Prices Could Drop Below $3

You might have noticed this at the pump already, but gas prices are beginning to drop, in North Carolina and nationwide – and it’s likely they’ll drop even further as we get into the fall.

“Right now in North Carolina, the average price for a gallon of gas is $3.28 – six cents cheaper than it was a month ago,” says Tiffany Wright of AAA Carolinas. “The downward trend is looking good, and I think it will continue.”

Wright says gas prices typically drop during the fall for several reasons: demand goes down after the summer driving season, and refineries are allowed to switch to a cheaper blend of gas. The price of oil is also falling this year, and that’s adding to the decline in gas prices.

And as we head into October and beyond, Wright says don’t be surprised to see gas prices dropping even further – even below $3.00.

“Of course we can’t predict the future, but it’s a real possibility that we’ll be seeing that in North Carolina,” she says.

The current statewide average of $3.28 per gallon is six cents cheaper than the national average, which is $3.34.

NC Gas Prices Continue to Trend Downwards

AAA Carolinas reports that the gas prices in North Carolina are the lowest they have been in more than a month and drivers are paying less this July than the July of last year; this trend is predicted to continue as the summer progresses.

Public Relations Manager at AAA Carolinas, Tiffany Wright, says that the drop in gas prices this past month is certainly impressive, and that this current trend in prices is not going to stop yet.

“Gas prices are trending downward, and that’s something I think is going to continue,” says Wright. “When you look at the fact we’ve seen North Carolina’s average gas price drop 12 cents in a month, I think that’s saying a lot.”

She attributes to the recent decline in prices to a greater reliance on gathering oil within the U.S.

“They’re trending down right now because right now we are producing a ton of oil domestically,” she says. “So, as we rely less on overseas oil and, at the same time on our end, consume less, that results in declining prices at the pump.”

Because of this dependency on oil we have accessed on our own soil, Wright says that gas prices are not being heavily affected by the conflicts going on in the Middle East.

“It’s a little opposite of what you think would be happening right now, everything that’s going on overseas,” says Wright. “Despite that, oil prices are expensive, and they remain expensive, but they’re relatively stable right now because oil production and export levels, they haven’t really noticeably changed that much. So, we really aren’t having to rely that much overseas.”

While the unrest in Russia progresses as well, Wright says she believes that as long as we stick to our oil supply, we will not encounter much difficulty.

“It’s hard to tell,” she says. “As long as we keep producing as much as we’re producing domestically, I don’t think that will be a problem.”

Wright says she expects travel to continue to as usual, and gas prices will continue to fall below less than what they were around this time last year.

“July and August typically are the busiest driving months of the year, but right now gas prices, they’re really in a good position,” says Wright. “For the remainder of what we call the ‘summer driving season,’ gas prices might actually cost less than in recent years this August, just as long as the refinery production continues and remains strong.”

To see the AAA Carolinas gas price chart that compares prices from this year to last year, click here.

Gas Prices Steady in NC

Gas prices have risen steadily nationally in the past twelve days, but fortunately for North Carolinians, prices are still expected to remain stable.

Public Relations Manager of AAA Carolinas Tiffany Wright says there has actually been a slight trend during the month of June showing a decrease in prices at North Carolina pumps.

“A lot of folks are thinking that prices are going up but they really haven’t in North Carolina as a whole, they have been steady.”

With ISIS insurgents’ most recent attack on Iraq’s largest oil refinery, Americans have begun to attribute the spike in prices to the crisis overseas. However, Wright assures that there should be between no more than a five to ten cent gasoline price increase statewide this summer.

“There is reason and concern for drivers to have a nervous wallet,” Wright said. “With so much uncertainty and the unknown out there in Iraq, it does have some feeling there for concern. But as of right now, (prices) really are steady.”

Wright also says this Independence Day holiday has an expected two percent increase in travel nationwide.

What Is E15?

Gas prices are expected to climb close to $2.63 a gallon, 20 cents higher than at this time last year, while a record-high of nearly 980 thousand North Carolina drivers will be travelling by automobile this Memorial Day weekend, despite these rising prices. But there is another factor drivers should watch out for on the road this weekend.

Those traveling this weekend should be on the lookout for gas stations that sell E15 gasoline, a form of fuel that contains 15% ethanol made from corn in order to reduce dependence on fossil fuels in the US.

“While it has been permitted by the federal government… pushed a little bit because Congress said we wanted reduce our reliance on fossil fuels,” says manager of public affairs for AAA Carolinas, Tom Crosby, “it has not yet been approved by 95% of the manufacturers that put cars on the road today.”

Crosby warns about the risks that could result from using E15 in vehicles that are not approved. “It can damage your engine; it can invalidate your catalytic converter. Many manufacturers will void the warranty that you have if you use E15.”

Those driving, especially to locations out-of-state, are advised by Crosby and AAA Carolinas to check service station pumps and consult the owner’s manual for their particular vehicle to confirm they are using the correct fuel.

To better estimate fuel costs, click here to input starting city, destination, and the make and model of their car.

NC Gas Prices Continue To Climb For Easter Weekend

As drivers hit the highways for the Easter Weekend, North Carolina’s gas prices will continue to increase. But some good news for road warriors, fueling up this weekend will cost you less compared to Easter last year.

While gasoline prices have climbed 36 cents a gallon since Christmas, they are still 5.6 cents a gallon less on average than a year ago, according to AAA of the Carolinas.

The state-wide average now is $3.59 a gallon compared to about $3.67 last Easter holiday.

Prices are expected to continue to inch upwards over the next few weeks but should remain slightly lower this year overall.

Currently, North Carolina’s average gas price is the 25th most expensive in the nation and Georgia is 24th; South Carolina’s is 4th lowest nationally and Virginia 7th.

The Wilmington area has the second highest-priced gasoline in North Carolina at about $3.62; Winston-Salem the second cheapest at about $3.53.

Motorists looking for ways to conserve gasoline while traveling should keep the following tips in mind:

  • Monitor driving behavior, follow the speed limit and avoid accelerating or decelerating quickly. For every five miles per hour over 65 mph, gasoline efficiency decreases 10 pecent.
  • Make sure tires are properly inflated to maximize fuel economy. See your owner’s manual for the recommended tire pressure for your vehicle.
  • Keep vehicles properly maintained, including scheduled oil changes and air filter replacements.
  • Avoid excess weight in your vehicle. When vacationing, try to avoid strapping luggage on the roof where it causes drag and reduces fuel economy.
  • Whenever possible, consolidate trips.