Entries in Drivers (12)


Lower Gas Prices Driving More to Travel on Memorial Day

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Summer unofficially kicks off this weekend and millions plan to hit the road for Memorial Day.

The automobile group AAA expects that nearly 35 million Americans will travel 50 miles from home for the holiday weekend -- a 1.2 percent increase over last year.

That boost is partly due to drivers getting some relief at the pump.  Gas prices have fallen about 25 cents in April, contradicting predictions by experts who said they would hit $5 a gallon by Memorial Day.

Yahoo! Finance's Daniel Gross says several global factors have led to the drop in price.

"Tensions with Iran have lessened and that was pushing oil and gas prices up.  The global economy has certainly slowed down," he notes.

Another reason for the decrease, Gross explains, is that Americans are using less gasoline.

"Our cars are much more fuel efficient.  GM sold 100,000 cars in March that got 35 miles a gallon or more.  A lot more people are riding the bus.  There's a lot more light rail than there used to be," he says.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


High Gas Prices Driving Buyers Toward More Fuel Efficient Cars

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(YONKERS, N.Y.) -- High gas prices are dictating how car buyers go about purchasing their next vehicle.

A new survey from Consumer Reports found that 37 percent of consumers would make fuel economy their top priority when shopping for their next automobile.  That's followed by quality (17 percent), safety (16 percent), value (14 percent) and performance (6 percent).

Jeff Bartlett, Consumer Reports' deputy auto editor, said it's clear drivers are feeling the pain at the pump.

"Gas prices have been high for quite some time now.  And there is no real sign that they're going to go down to the point that they were just a few years ago.  So, looking to balance their budgets and keep an eye on costs, consumers are really looking at the operating costs of owning a vehicle," he said.

In fact, 90 percent of respondents cited gasoline costs as the number one reason for wanting a more fuel-efficient vehicle.

The pain at the pump is also leading car buyers to consider a change in how their vehicles are powered.  Nearly three-quarters -- 73 percent -- of those surveyed said they might be open to alternatively fueled vehicles, like hybrids and electric cars.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Gas Prices Not Keeping Americans from Dreams of Cross Country Drives

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(BELLEVUE, Wash.) -- The extra cost of filling up at the pump isn't stopping some Americans from at least dreaming about driving across the country, according to the travel website Expedia.

In a recent survey, Expedia learned that while a quarter of men and a third of women say they have never gone coast-to-coast in a car, they’ve “always wanted to.”

And even though the distance seems daunting, millions have apparently gone the distance.  In fact, the survey found that 41 percent have driven across the country and that nearly half of the male respondents claim to have made the trip.

However, as gas prices keep rising, the tendency is to stick closer to home when making vacation plans, the survey said.

Over 2,260 adults were interviewed for the survey conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of Expedia.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


OnStar Says GM May Track Your Car, Even if You Cancel Service

Bill Pugliano/Getty Images(DETROIT) -- OnStar, the service started by General Motors to support drivers through a cellphone system in their cars, has now told customers it may collect information on their movements and driving habits even if they no longer subscribe to the service. And the company, which took billions in taxpayer-funded government bailout money, also says it could share that information with law enforcement agencies or sell it to other companies.

The notice went out quietly; the response has been anything but.

OnStar installs cellular systems in vehicles which, if you pay for a service plan (starting at $18.95 a month), can give you driving directions, open the car doors if you lock yourself out, even track your car and alert local police if you are in an accident and your airbags inflate.

The company sent users a routine email updating its terms of service, effective as of December 2011.

Buried in some legal language was this line: "Unless the Data Connection in your Vehicle is deactivated, information about your Vehicle may continue to be collected even if you do not have a Plan."

A few lines later, the company wrote: "We may...share the information we collect with law enforcement or other public safety officials, credit card processors and/or third parties we contract with who conduct joint marketing initiatives with OnStar."

In other words, OnStar was reserving the right to collect and share information on your driving habits -- even if you decided the service was a gimmick and ended your subscription.

Sens. Al Franken of Minnesota and Christopher Coons of Delaware, both Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, wrote to express their "serious concern" with the changes.

"OnStar's assurances that it will protect its customers by 'anonymizing' precise GPS records of their location are undermined by a broad body of research showing that it is extraordinarily difficult to successfully anonymize highly personal data like location," they said.

OnStar went into apology mode.

"Not a whole lot has changed," said Adam Denison, a spokesman for OnStar, in a conversation with ABC News.  "If people call in to cancel their service, we will inform them we will maintain the cellular connection, but they can disconnect at any time."

Denison said the company is not selling the data to others -- such as insurance companies -- nor is it planning to do so.  He added that if a government agency were to call asking for data on a driver's behavior, OnStar "could share data anonymously."

"We are always very specific about with whom we share customers' personal information, and how they will use it," said Joanne Finnorn, OnStar's vice president for subscriber services, in a statement.  "We have never sold any personally identifiable information to any third party."

The statement went on to say, "We apologize for creating any confusion about our Terms and Conditions.  We want to make sure we are as clear with our customers as possible, but it's apparent that we have failed to do this."

Despite the company's assurances, this is another thorny case in which people have been monitored by a large company -- in this case, one that can tell where and how fast they drive -- and it may be possible for law enforcement agencies or others to subpoena them to get it.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Fewer Americans Expected to Travel on Labor Day Weekend

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(AURORA, Ill.) -- As Labor Day weekend approaches, fewer Americans appear to be planning on hitting the road for one last trip to celebrate the unofficial end of summer.

AAA estimates that 31.5 million Americans will travel during this year's holiday weekend, which begins on Sept. 1 and runs through Sept. 5.  The latest projection is down 2.4 percent from the 32.3 million who got behind the wheel in 2010.

AAA's Heather Hunter says "the decrease in expected travelers is a result of a mixed economic outlook.  We've had some recent poor economic news that has come out and also [high] gas prices."

Among those traveling, more will be doing so via automobiles.  According to AAA, 87 percent of holiday travelers -- or close to 27.3 million Americans -- will be hitting the roads, while eight percent will be opting to fly.  The remaining five percent will be reaching their destinations using other modes of transportation, like trains or watercraft.

If they do take to the road, travelers will be staying closer to home this year.  AAA says Americans will travel an average distance of 608 miles, down from 635 miles the year before.  They will, however, spend slightly more than last year despite the shorter distance -- $702 compared to $697 -- mainly due to the rise in fuel and transportation costs.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Gas Prices Not Likely to Fall Much Further

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Gas prices are about as low as they're going to go this summer, according to fuel industry analysts.

The peak was reached on May 2, when gasoline prices averaged just over $4 a gallon across the country.

Since then, the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration says the cost of gas has dropped about 46 cents to a national average of $3.579 per gallon -- still about a buck more than drivers were paying this time last year.

Now, analysts say that most of the declines are over, although some prices may drift a little lower in the coming weeks.

While demand for crude oil has dropped in the U.S., it still remains high in other parts of the world.

It also appears that President Obama's decision to release 30 million barrels from the nation's Strategic Oil Reserves hasn't had the desired effect of lessening pain at the pump.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Fewer Americans Traveling this Fourth of July Weekend

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- If you have plans to travel this Fourth of July weekend, it appears you will have plenty of wiggle room on the roads.

AAA estimates that 39 million Americans will be traveling far (50 miles or more) this year, a 2.5 percent drop from last year's 40 million travelers.

More specifically, close to one million fewer drivers (32.8 million) will be on the road during this holiday weekend compared to the 33.7 million last year.  More Americans, however, will be traveling by plane this year, marking a nine percent jump from the Independence Day weekend of 2010.

The main reason behind the overall drop in travelers?  Gasoline prices.

"AAA is projecting a slight decline in the number of Independence Day travelers mainly due to fuel prices being approximately one dollar per gallon higher than last year," said Glen MacDonell, director, AAA Travel Services. "Increased fuel costs are also responsible for a shift in the demographics of the typical Independence Day traveler as higher prices impact lower income households more significantly."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Adjust How You Drive and Save on Gas

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- You can't control gas prices, but you can get better mileage by adjusting how you drive.

One tip is to keep all of your tires properly inflated.

"You really can get 3 percent better fuel economy if you keep them properly inflated," says Mark Solheim of Kiplinger's Personal Finance.

Another tip is to shed excess weight.

"If you're carrying around a toolbox or just some junk in your trunk get rid of it.  You can improve your fuel economy by 2 percent," Solheim says.

Avoiding traffic jams can also help, and if you drive with cruise control at 60 mph that's an added plus.

Solheim says if you go over 70 and use your brakes a lot, "you'll decrease your fuel economy by 33 percent."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Save on Gas Money this Memorial Day Weekend

Hemera Technologies/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) With Memorial Day just around the corner and average gas prices at a dollar more per gallon than they were a year ago, motorists stand to spend more money travelling this holiday weekend.

But drivers can save a lot simply by changing the way they drive.

"The best thing you can possibly do is slow down," says ABC News financial contributor Melody Hobson. "For every five miles you drive over a 60 mile an hour limit you spend about 24 cents."

At 24 cents extra for every mile you drive, 40 miles would amount to $10, explains Hobson.

"This is real money," she says.

Avoiding traffic jams or times of the day when roads are crowded can also help you save on gas.

"In traffic, the stopping and starting and stopping actually also costs you money. It costs you about 33 percent more when you drive that way," Hobson says.

Another way to save on driving costs: leave early so you don't hurry.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Allstate Hosts Family Driving Challenge

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- The Allstate Corporation kicked off the weekend by hosting an event aimed at educating drivers about the dangers of distracted driving.

Allstate Chairman and CEO Tom Wilson and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Administrator David Strickland joined parents, teens and others at the Walt Disney World Speedway in Orlando, Florida for the Allstate Family Driving Challenge held on Friday. The event provided those in attendance with information about the difficulties of distracted driving and the dangers of using cell phones while driving.

"Distracted driving is a deadly epidemic on America's roadways, and our youngest drivers are often the most at risk," said Strickland. "When you're driving, your attention should always be on the road – not on a phone. Allstate's Family Driving Challenge is a great way to demonstrate just how dangerous distractions can be behind the wheel."

A press release from Allstate says that according to data from the NHTSA, almost 5,500 people were killed in the year 2009 in vehicular accidents involving distracted drivers.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio