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Gas Prices drop as motorists gear up for Thanksgiving travel 


 

National average gas price on Thanksgiving projected to be third lowest in 11 years 

n-gas-prices-thankshistMotorists preparing to travel for Thanksgiving have something to be thankful for: falling gas prices. According to GasBuddy, prices in 44 of the 50 U.S. states are lower than a week ago, coming just in time for when millions of Americans will be hitting the road.

GasBuddy projects the national average gas price this Thanksgiving will be the third lowest in over a decade at $2.11 per gallon. Average prices have only been lower for Thanksgiving in 2015 ($2.05) and 2008 ($1.81). Monday’s national average price for a gallon of gasoline was $2.14, some 65 cents less than the average price on Thanksgiving merely two years ago ($2.79).

In Cedar Springs, gas was $2.11 Tuesday.

“Over the Thanksgiving travel period, Wednesday, Nov. 23, to Sunday, Nov. 27, motorists will be collectively spending nearly $1.7 billion less at the gas pump than the five-year average,” said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst at GasBuddy. “This year will go down as the first in over a decade that no state—not even traditionally pricey Hawaii or California—has seen its average daily price breach $3 per gallon. We can thank global oil production that continues to outpace rising demand for the low prices.”

Consumers are taking advantage. According to GasBuddy’s 2016 Thanksgiving Travel survey, 52 percent of those traveling this year will be on the road for at least 4 hours; 20 percent of which will be driving 10-plus hours.

The survey also found that “running out of gas” is the third biggest fear when it comes to being on the road for the holidays this year, ranked behind 1) sitting in traffic and 2) needing to use the restroom but unsure where/when the next one will be available.

Additionally, travelers are on a mission. Fifty-five percent said they only make stops when absolutely necessary. When they do make stops, gas prices and location are the top deciding factors, followed by the cleanliness of the gas station convenience store.

“Travelers will be journeying a long distance this year. It is evident that consumers are looking to save time and make quick stops that can fulfill all their needs from affordable fuel, to clean restrooms, to good food,” said Michael DiLorenzo, vice president of marketing at GasBuddy. “The newly redesigned GasBuddy app is made to help with this journey. With enhanced search filters and station ratings, travelers will now be able to quickly and easily find what they want right in the palm of their hands

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State Police add extra patrols for Thanksgiving 


More Michigan State Troopers will be patrolling the highways over Thanksgiving to help prevent crashes and injuries during the second deadliest time of the year for traffic crashes. Photo courtesy of Michigan State Police.

More Michigan State Troopers will be patrolling the highways over Thanksgiving to help prevent crashes and injuries during the second deadliest time of the year for traffic crashes. Photo courtesy of Michigan State Police.

Operation C.A.R.E. traffic safety effort begins Wednesday 

The Thanksgiving holiday is almost here and that means travel, food, family and football. As motorists prepare to hit the highways, the Michigan State Police (MSP) is gearing up for the annual Operation C.A.R.E. (Combined Accident Reduction Effort) traffic safety initiative Nov. 23-27, 2016.

“We want every family to have a safe holiday and to enjoy time together,” said Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue, director of the MSP. “We urge you to drive safely this Thanksgiving weekend by wearing a seat belt, designating a sober driver and avoiding distractions like texting or talking on your phone while driving.”

Thanksgiving is the second deadliest holiday in Michigan for traffic crashes. In 2015, there were 11 fatalities, five of which were pedestrians, during the holiday period. In 2014 there were six traffic fatalities during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, the lowest number in more than 30 years.

Beginning Wednesday, troopers across the state will conduct high-visibility enforcement focusing on impaired driving, seat belt use, careless driving and speeding. Extra patrols are paid for with federal traffic safety funds coordinated by the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning.

Enforcement is supported by the Give thanks. Drive safely. public awareness campaign that includes a public service announcement available at www.youtube.com/michstatepolice.

With the arrival of winter weather, motorists are also encouraged to take extra precautions when driving in snowy and icy conditions and to place an emergency preparedness kit in their vehicles. To learn more about creating a kit, go to www.michigan.gov/miready.

Operation C.A.R.E. is a nationwide initiative aimed at reducing traffic crashes and fatalities on highways across the country. It began in 1977 as a collaborative effort between the MSP and the Indiana State Police. Today Operation C.A.R.E. is one of the nation’s longest running traffic safety initiatives and includes state and highway patrol agencies from all 50 states, as well as some American territories and Canadian provinces.

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Have turkey will travel


Are you going to be one of the 1.33 million residents traveling 50 miles or more from home during the Thanksgiving holiday this week? That’s how many people AAA Michigan estimates will be on the road Wednesday, November 23 to Sunday, November 27. That’s nine percent more people traveling in Michigan this year than last year. Nationally, the number is up four percent, to 42.5 million.
“This is the first significant increase in any holiday travel this year,” noted AAA Michigan President Steve Wagner.  “Despite the uncertain economy, our projected increase shows more travelers are choosing visiting family and friends over frugality this holiday.”
Vehicle travel remains the most popular form of Thanksgiving transportation.    Ninety percent of Michigan travelers will go by vehicle, down from last year’s ninety-four percent.  Nationally, 90 percent of holiday travelers will also go by vehicle, a four percent increase.
Gasoline prices have fallen 15-20 cents over the last week, depending on where you live. In Cedar Springs, they were $3.26 at press time, and still about 50 cents higher than a year ago.
“Gasoline prices have continued their slow decline in the last week across a solid majority of the United States, with the national average sagging to its lowest level since this past February,” according to GasBuddy.com Senior Petroleum Analyst Patrick DeHaan. “Many motorists may be giving thanks for the lower gasoline prices until they realize that average prices will still easily exceed prior Thanksgiving Day records,” he added.

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DURING A WINTER STORM


At home:
•    To save heat close off unneeded rooms, cover windows at night and stuff towels or rags in cracks under doors.
•    Maintain adequate food and water intake. Food provides the body with energy for producing its own heat.
If travel is necessary:
•    Use caution when driving in winter conditions.  The highest rate of traffic crashes due to winter weather is in the month of November when the snow first starts to fall over Michigan.
•    Inform someone of your destination and travel time.  Bring a cell phone in case you must call for help.
If traveling and the power goes out:
•    Use extreme caution when driving.  If traffic signals are out, treat each signal as a stop sign—come to a complete stop at every intersection and look for oncoming traffic before proceeding.
•    Do not call 9-1-1 to ask about the power outage.  Listen to news radio stations for updates and contact your electrical company.
If stranded in a vehicle:
•    Do not leave your vehicle.
•    Do not park under an overpass or bridge as this can trap deadly carbon monoxide fumes.
•    Attach a bright cloth to your antenna to attract attention.
•    Run the motor about 10 minutes each hour for heat. Open the window slightly for fresh air and make sure the exhaust pipe is not blocked.
•    Attract attention by turning on the dome light and emergency flashers when running the engine.
•    To keep blood circulating and to stay warm, exercise by moving arms, legs, fingers and toes.
If stranded outside:
•    Try to stay dry and cover all exposed parts of the body.
•    Prepare a windbreak or snow cave for protection from the wind.  Build a fire for heat and to attract attention.
Do not eat snow because it will lower your body temperature.  Melt it first.

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Travel to Louisiana through pictures and music


Do you like music? Are you looking for a night of entertainment at a low cost?

Come and hear two musicians from Louisiana, Monty and Marsha Brown, (whose music was featured in the movie “Steel Magnolias”), on Monday, April 11, at 7 p.m. at the Cedar Springs High School Auditorium.  The duo will give a musical and multimedia presentation about the connection of music and culture in their state as part of the Cedar Springs Area Parks and Rec’s Virtual Travel Adventure series.

This adventure will take you on a journey through the bayou, through the northern parishes of the state and listen to bluegrass, then take you into the sections of the state’s French heritage where the waltz will be played and danced to, before coming to rest in New Orleans and listening to the famous sounds of blues and jazz.

In recent years they have seen turbulent times due to Hurricane Katrina and the Gulf Oil Spill. They will be answering questions regarding these matters and how that is affecting the state and its relationship with the music community.

There is an intermission during the travel adventure that will include snacks and beverages. The event is held at the Cedar Springs High School Auditorium with the doors opening at 6 p.m. and the adventure beginning at 7 p.m. The adventure fee is $8.
Information on this and other programs are online at www.csaparksandrec.com or you can follow us on Facebook for up to date information. Please feel free to call us at 696-7320.

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New rules to protect air travelers


Complaints to the Better Business Bureau about airlines have increased by more than 170 percent in the last five years. Good news is on the horizon, as the BBB explains, new rules and regulations went into effect last month to provide better consumer protection for air travelers.

According to the Department of Transportation (DOT), most complaints against airlines are about flight problems – including delays and cancellations – and lost baggage.  Some more famous angry customers took their complaints online in the last year by performing songs like “United Breaks Guitars” for YouTube or posting videos of being stuck for hours on the tarmac with other angry passengers.

“Harried air travelers have grown increasingly angry and vocal both online and offline about how they feel they are being treated and the Federal Government is taking notice,” said Ken Vander Meeden, BBB of Western Michigan CEO. “These new regulations will hopefully result in happier fliers and fewer complaints to the BBB.”

The following are the new regulations that go into effect April 29 by the DOT to improve customer protections when flying in the US:

Customer Complaints – Airlines are now required to acknowledge customer complaints within 30 days and address the issue within 60 days.

Tardy Takeoffs – DOT is now allowed to penalize airlines for any domestic flight that is more than 30 minutes late on at least half its trips each month for four months in a row.

Tarmac Tribulations – Airlines are required to provide adequate food and potable drinking water for passengers within two hours of the aircraft being delayed – lavatories must also remain available and operable. If the plane is delayed more than three hours on the tarmac, it must return to the gate and deplane the passengers – barring any safety or airport disruption concerns.

Web Site Wait Times – Airlines are required to display on their Web site flight delay information for each domestic flight they operate. The Wall Street Journal reports, however, that the airline industry is asking for an extension on the deadline for compliance on this specific issue because of technology constraints.

Relaying Your Rights – Airlines must include on their Web site a customer service plan which, as recommended by DOT, would outline the company policies in regard to overbooking, baggage handling, handling customer complaints and many other customer service issues.

More information on these new rules can be found online at regulations.gov. Upset airplane passengers are encouraged to file a complaint with both the DOT and the BBB online.

For more advice you can trust to become a smart traveler, visit http://www.bbb.org/us/consumer-tips-travel/.

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