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.