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.

NC Average Gas Prices Jump 15 Cents Since Last Month

Average gas prices in North Carolina increased by 15 cents in the past month—the highest rate since July 27, 2013, according to AAA Carolinas.

Now sitting at $3.53 per gallon as of April 8, gas prices are up from a month ago, when the price was $3.38.

After starting 2014 at $3.31 on Jan. 1, gas prices fell to a year-low of $3.28 on Feb. 8 before beginning an upward increase.

Prices typically tend to rise in the spring due to refinery maintenance, according to AAA. The tightened supply across the country results in higher gas prices. Refineries must also make the switch to summer fuel blends by May 1.

Gas prices are expected to continue to rise until refinery maintenance is completed, which is likely to be by the end of April.

Another factor that contributes to higher prices is an increase in gasoline demand due to warmer weather and the beginning of vacation-travel season.

Although demand will continue to climb as the beginning of summer nears, an increase in gasoline production will allow supply levels to keep up with that demand.

And good news for drivers, AAA Carolinas predicts that overall, gas prices for 2014 will be slightly cheaper than 2013.

Staying Safe On The Roads During Snow Storms

NORTH CAROLINA- As the temperatures drop and winter weather moves across our state, AAA of the Carolinas has some safety tips to help keep you safe if you have to travel over the next several days.

Angela Vogel Daley of AAA says to avoid unnecessary travel if possible during dangerous weather events.

“If you anticipate snowy or icy conditions in your area, our best recommendation is to stay off the road,” Daley says. “Delay your travels and travel at a time when it is going to be much safer.”

Daley recommends keeping a greater distance between your car and the car in front of you. On dry pavement at 20 mph, it takes about 20 feet to stop, whereas on ice-covered roads at 20 mph, it takes 145 feet to stop.

If you have to put on the brakes, it is a good idea to do so gradually with steady pressure on the brakes. If you begin to skid, steer in the direction you want to go. If you have anti-lock brakes, keep the brake firmly engaged; if you don’t have anti-lock brakes, gently depress the brake pedal.

Don’t slam on your brakes because it can cause you to lose control. If the brakes lock, release the brakes and gently brake again while keeping your heel on the floor.

Avoid using cruise control in rainy, slick or snowy conditions.

“You may need to take your foot off the pedal quickly. This cannot be easily accomplished when your cruise control is engaged. You may cause the car to skid if you are in cruise control.”

To prepare for frigid conditions, Daley says it is also important to check your car battery.

“When temperatures get below freezing, your battery loses about 40 percent of its charge. If your battery is weak to begin with, your car may not start. We will definitely see that when temperatures go below freezing.”

During winter months, the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning increases as people warm up their cars in closed garages. In some counties, Daley explains, it is illegal to warm up a car parked on public streets when the driver is not in the car.

“You should never be warming up your car with a closed garage door. Pull your car outside to warm it up.”

Keeping an emergency kit in your car can also help you be prepared if you become stranded while traveling. Daley says to make sure it includes a car charger, blankets, a flashlight with extra batteries, a first aid kit, drinking water, a small shovel, a sack of sand or cat litter for traction, a windshield scraper, battery booster cables, emergency reflectors and non-perishable snacks.

Record Number Of North Carolinians To Travel During Holidays

CHAPEL HILL – A record 2.8 million North Carolinians will travel 50 miles or more for the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, according to AAA Carolinas.

Angela Daley of AAA says that’s an increase of 48,500 total travelers compared to last year.

“The increase is only about 1.7 percent, so it is not a significant increase, but we have seen very slow and steady increases since the recession,” Daley says. “With Christmas and New Year’s holidays, we never really saw a huge drop-off because of the recession.”

Daley says that more than 90 percent of travelers plan to drive to their destination.

And good news for everyone, gas prices haven’t gone up. North Carolina gas prices currently average $3.23 per gallon— the same price as a year ago. Motorists can find the cheapest gasoline in North Carolina in High Point at $3.18 a gallon and the most expensive gas in Boone at $3.30.

South Carolina offers lower prices with $3.07 a gallon, Tennessee with $3.06, Virginia with $3.15, and Georgia with $3.17.

“I do think that with the improving economy, people are less concerned about what they are paying at the pump,” Daley says. “For a majority of this year, we have been paying less than we were on the same calendar date a year ago.”

The 12-day Christmas and New Year’s travel holiday is defined as Saturday, Dec. 21, through Wednesday, Jan. 1, which is one day longer than the travel period last year, Daley explains. The year-end holiday ranges from 10 to 13 days, and volume often increases relative to length.

Check Your Tires And Batteries, Winter Is Coming

CHARLOTTE – The temperatures may have warmed again for a little while longer, but AAA Carolinas is taking last weekend’s cold snap as an opportunity to tell you to winterize you car.

Director of Communications Angela Daley says there are two main parts of the car to keep an eye on in the cold months.

“The biggest factors we see with cooler weather are batteries and tires,” Daley says. “So it’s important to get those checked this time of year.”

Temperatures dropped into the 20s in the Triangle during the weekend. Daley says with lower temperatures your tire pressure can often be affected.

“One thing we see is tire pressure is usually decreased when the weather gets colder,” Daley says. “So, it’s important to check your tire pressure. You can find that either in your owner’s manual or on the sticker on the inside of your door.”

And if the Triangle should get any snow this year, Daley says it’s important that you have good tread on your tires.

“We recommend that you replace your tires when you have less than 3/32nd inches of tread,” Daley says. “Another thing you can do is take a penny and put it in your tire tread, and if it doesn’t cover Lincoln’s head, you know you need to replace your tire.”

Winter Car Care Checklist:

  • Battery and Charging System – Have your battery and charging system tested by a trained technician. A fully charged battery in good condition is required to start an engine in cold weather. When the temperature is below freezing, a battery only generates 60% of its current charge.
  • Tire Type and Tread – In areas with heavy winter weather, installing snow tires on all four wheels will provide the best winter traction. All-season tires work well in light-to-moderate snow conditions provided they have adequate tread depth. Replace any tire that has less than 3/32-inches of tread.
  • Tire Pressure – Check tire inflation pressure on all four tires and the spare more frequently in fall and winter. As the average temperature drops, so will the pressure in your tires – typically by one PSI for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Incorrect tire pressure can reduce your vehicle’s fuel economy by 3-4%. Proper tire pressure levels can be found in the owner’s manual or on a sticker typically located on the inside of the driver’s side door. Tire pressure should be checked when your tires are cold – before you have driven one mile if possible.
  • Lights – Visibility is important – particularly when it starts getting darker earlier. Check the operation of all headlights, taillights, brake lights, turn signals, emergency flashers and back-up lights. Replace any burnt out bulbs.
  • Wiper Blades – The blades should completely clear the glass with each swipe. Replace any blade that leaves streaks or misses spots. In areas with snow, consider installing winter wiper blades that wrap the blade frame in a rubber boot to reduce ice and snow buildup, which can prevent good contact between the blade and the glass.
  • Washer Fluid – Fill the windshield washer fluid reservoir with a winter cleaning solution that has antifreeze components to prevent it from freezing.
  • Transmission, Brake and Power Steering Fluids – Check all fluids to ensure they are at or above the minimum safe levels.

Gas Prices Drop To Lowest In 2013

CHAPEL HILL – North Carolina’s average gas price has dropped 20 cents since last month, making it the lowest price this year.

The average price per gallon in the state is now $3.27, just two cents lower than the average in the triangle area. Angela Daley, Director of Communications at AAA Carolinas, says that the price change is due to the season.

“Well the biggest factor right now is decreased demand,” Daley says. “After the end of the summer driving season, people aren’t taking those trips anymore, and so in September and October we start to see gas prices come down because demand has decreased.”

Not only has summer ended, but the Gulf coast managed to avoid any serious hurricanes, unlike in previous years.

“The other big factor right now is hurricanes,” Daley says. “We haven’t seen a major hurricane hit the Gulf, and so gas prices have really been coming down since Labor Day.  That’s the one exception that we sometimes do see gas prices go up during September and we did see that last year.”

AAA Carolina’s expects the price to continue to drop until around Thanksgiving.  During heavily traveled holidays the gas prices are likely to stabilize or slightly go up.

The Government shut-down has assisted in lowering gas prices as well since many workers aren’t commuting to jobs.  Daley says that depending on how long the government shut-down lasts, prices may continue to drop.

“Right now, the biggest factor that we’re seeing push gas prices is just overall demand down because summer is over,” Daley says. “But, depending on how long the shut-down lasts, it could push gas prices down even further.”

The last time gas was cheaper in North Carolina was December 26 2012 when the average was $3.26.  Per gallon, prices are highest in Asheville averaging around $3.36, and lowest in Fayettville at $3.21.  North Carolina’s gas prices continue to remain below the national average of $3.35.

Seatbelt Usage Down In North Carolina

CHARLOTTE – Seatbelt usage in North Carolina has statistically been among the best in the nation for a while, but AAA Carolinas Communications Director, Angela Vogel Daley, says the buckle-up rate dipped in 2012.

“In 2012 compared to 2011, we found that seatbelt use rates fell from 89.5 percent in 2011 to 87.5 percent in 2012, which is an alarming trend that it’s going down after going up for so many years,” Daley says.

She says the high rate is in part due to the Click-It-Or-Ticket campaign and the subsequent enforcement of it. North Carolina was the first to launch the campaign 20 years ago.

Statistics by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that the use of seat belts reduces the risk of fatal injury to front-seat passengers in cars by 45 percent and in trucks by 60 percent.

“That’s an average, but obviously when you’re going at higher speeds and you’re in an accident you have a higher chance of being thrown from the vehicle,” Daley says. “You could be killed on impact.”

South Carolina has followed the same trend that North Carolina did increasing its usage rate from 70 percent in 2005 to 91 percent in 2012. Daley says a lot of that has to do with the change in state law.

“That’s for the front and back seats meaning that you can get pulled over for not wearing your seatbelts (without) requiring another violation,” Daley says.

Both states are still above the national average of 86 percent, but that number is also on the rise after jumping two points this past year.

“The increased enforcement, the increased awareness, it’s definitely heading in the right direction,” Daley says.

According to the NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System, in 2011, 43 percent of people who died in a traffic-related incident were not wearing a seatbelt. It also reported that 53 percent of those who died unbelted were ages 16-35.