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.http://chapelboro.com/news/traffic/low-gas-prices-fueling-high-thanksgiving-traffic/
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.http://chapelboro.com/news/state-news/nc-gas-prices-drop-lowest-four-years/
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.http://chapelboro.com/news/news-around-time/nc-gas-prices-drop-3/
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.http://chapelboro.com/news/state-news/nc-gas-prices-continues-trend-downwards/
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.http://chapelboro.com/news/news-around-time/gas-prices-steady-nc/
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.http://chapelboro.com/news/safety/e15/
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:
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.http://chapelboro.com/news/state-news/nc-average-gas-prices-jump-15-cents-since-last-month/
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.http://chapelboro.com/news/weather/staying-safe-roads-snow-storms/
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.http://chapelboro.com/news/traffic/record-number-north-carolinians-travel-holidays/