Entries in AAA (3)


Travel Increase Predicted for Memorial Day 2012

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The number of Memorial Day vacationers to travel more than 50 miles from home is expected to increase by 1.2 percent in 2012, according to an annual survey from the automobile group AAA.

As is typical, the number of people expected to travel by car far outnumbers those expected to travel by plane. More than 30 million people will get to their destinations by car, while roughly 2.5 million will get there by air.

Eighty-eight percent of holiday voyagers will travel by car; 7 percent by air and the remainder by other modes, including rail, bus and watercraft.

The total increase in travelers comes from drivers, at a rate of 1.2 percent. The number of people traveling by air is expected to decline 5.5 percent from last year's 2.7 million air travelers.

More than half of the survey's respondents said gas prices would not affect their Memorial Day holiday travel plans. However, the average travel distance is considerably less this year than in 2011. The average distance vacationers will travel will be 642 miles, which is 150 miles less than last year's average travel distance of 792 miles.

This is despite gas prices being, on average, 25 cents per gallon cheaper than this time last year, according to the AAA.

TripAdvisor, which ran its own Memorial Day travel survey, found a larger increase in the expected Memorial Day travelers: An 8 percent increase compared with 2011. The site also found that respondents weren't letting gas prices affect their summer vacations.

It's not only gas prices that are on the decline: AAA reports weekend daily car rental rates will average $36, which is 4 percent, or $2, less than last year.

Hotel rates, though, are expected to climb between 8 and 10 percent compared with last year.

The Memorial Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, May 24, to Monday, May 28.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Study: Drowsy Driving Kills

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Driving tired. Experts say it can be as dangerous as drunk driving.

A new study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety finds nearly a third of drivers admitted nodding off at the wheel during the past month of driving.

“I think that drowsy driving might be the largest, most unrecognized traffic safety problem that we face in this country,” said Peter Kissinger of the AAA Safety Foundation.

Drowsy driving may cause as many as 17 percent of all accidents and 5,000 deaths a year on the nation’s roads, according to the foundation.

In the study, 96 percent of drivers said it is not OK to drive while you’re sleepy. Despite that, 32 percent admitted they had done just that within the last month.

“A lot of people have gotten away with it in the past and, therefore, they’ve built up a false sense of security, they’ve reinforced a bad habit,” said Kissinger.

In a 2010 study, the AAA Foundation estimated that tired drivers were responsible for one in six fatal crashes, and one in eight crashes that sent someone to the hospital.

In more than half of the accidents, sleepy drivers drifted into another lane or off the road entirely.

The AAA Foundation said many drivers think they can simply will themselves to stay awake.

“Many drivers simply underestimate the problems associated with drowsy driving but, at the same time, they overestimate their ability to deal with it and that’s a deadly combination,” said Kissinger. “You cannot will yourself to stay awake. And when your body says enough’s enough, you are going to go to sleep.”

So what’s an exhausted driver to do?

“The only thing that really works is getting some rest,” said Kissinger. “So if you are driving and you start getting tired and finding yourself rolling the window down or turning up the radio, it’s time to pull off the road and get some rest.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


S&P Downgrades US Credit Rating

Scott Eells/Bloomberg via Getty Images/ABC News Radio(TORONTO) -- The ratings agency Standard & Poor's has reduced the United States' credit rating from AAA to AA+, the company announced late Friday.

"The downgrade reflects our opinion that the fiscal consolidation plan that Congress and the Administration recently agreed to falls short of what, in our view, would be necessary to stabilize the government's medium-term debt dynamics," Standard & Poor's said in a statement announcing the move.

"More broadly," the agency added, "the downgrade reflects our view that the effectiveness, stability, and predictability of American policymaking and political institutions have weakened at a time of ongoing fiscal and economic challenges to a degree more than we envisioned when we assigned a negative outlook to the rating on April 18, 2011.

"Since then, we have changed our view of the difficulties in bridging the gulf between the political parties over fiscal policy, which makes us pessimistic about the capacity of Congress and the Administration to be able to leverage their agreement this week into a broader fiscal consolidation plan that stabilizes the government's debt dynamics any time soon," S&P added.

The federal government had been expecting and preparing for Standard & Poor's to downgrade the rating of U.S. debt, government officials told ABC News before the reduction was formally announced.

However, another government official said S&P's analysis was "based on flawed math and assumptions" to the tune of roughly $2 trillion, so the Obama administration pushed back.  Even though "S&P has acknowledged its numbers are wrong," the official said before the reduction.

S&P refused to comment at the time on the alleged numerical error.

Last month, Standard & Poor's warned that the U.S. risked a downgrade to AA status if Congress did not lift the debt ceiling and reduce the total debt by $4 trillion over the next decade. It later toned down its warning.

S&P is the last of the major ratings agencies to comment about U.S. credit rating after the Senate passed an agreement Tuesday to raise the debt ceiling and avoid a default on U.S. debt, following passage in the House on Monday evening.

After the bill passed in the Senate, Moody's Investor Service affirmed its AAA rating on U.S. sovereign debt but lowered its outlook to "negative."

At stake in all this is not only interest rates the U.S. must pay on its $14.4 trillion debt, but a host of rates for consumers ranging from those on items from mortgages to car loans to credit cards.

A downgrade of U.S. debt likely will cause interest rates of all kinds to edge up and that would cost the U.S. and consumers billions of dollars.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio