May/Jun 2009 Issue

Motorists can expect to spend an average of $22 per day this year to operate their cars

For every mile you drive, it will cost you 54.0 cents, which is essentially the same amount that motorists paid last year, according to new figures released by AAA.

While the cost of fuel at the pump has dipped from last year’s record prices, many of the other costs associated with car ownership have climbed, bringing the total cost to drive to $8,095 for the year, which averages out to $22.18 per day for a motorist who drives 15,000 miles per year. The cost per mile fell about one-tenth of a cent compared to driving costs in 2008, when it was 54.1 cents per mile.

AAA’s annual estimate of how much motorists pay to drive is composed of all the ownership, maintenance and operating costs associated with driving. The results are published in a free brochure called “Your Driving Costs.”

AAA also estimates that the driving costs for four-wheel-drive SUVs will be 68.3 cents per mile in 2009, 1.4 cents less per mile than last year. And the driving costs for minivans will be 58.7 cents per mile, 1.1 cents more than last year.

For a free copy of the brochure, send a stamped, self-addressed, business-size envelope to: AAA, “Your Driving Costs,” 12901 N. Forty Drive, St. Louis, MO, 63141. To determine your driving costs online, visit and click on the automotive section.


Arkansas toughens teen driver, seat belt and cell phone laws

With strengthened laws relating to teen drivers, cell phones and safety belts, Arkansas legislators are hoping to improve the safety of Arkansas’s roads.

In one of the measures passed recently, lawmakers added more restrictions to the state’s graduated driver license (GDL) law, which is designed to help teens graduate through licensing stages to give them experience in less risky situations before full licensure.

The new GDL law, which takes effect May 11, places a curfew on 16- and 17-year-old drivers from 11 p.m. until 4 a.m. unless they are accompanied by a driver 21 or older. There are exceptions for those who are returning home from a school-related activity, work or church activity. Also, it restricts teens from carrying more than one teen passenger unless there is a licensed driver at least 21 in the front passenger seat. There are exclusions for siblings and other family members.

“I ran this bill because I am tired of seeing so many young people killed and tragically injured in auto accidents on the roadways of our state,” said Sen. Jimmy Jeffress, D-Crossett.

The state also has adopted a primary seat belt law, so law enforcement officers can pull over and ticket a driver for not buckling up. Under the previous secondary law, officers could cite motorists for a seat belt violation only if they were pulled over for another offense.

Sen. Hank Wilkins, D-Pine Bluff, introduced the bill to help raise seat belt usage rates. Of the 525 people who died in Arkansas crashes in 2007, about 65 percent of them were not wearing seat belts. Arkansas will be entitled to about $9.5 million in federal grant funds to implement highway safety programs by adopting the new law.

When Arkansas’ primary seat belt law takes effect on June 30, it will join 26 other states with similar laws, including Mississippi and Louisiana.

Then effective on Oct. 1, drivers will be prohibited from using a cell phone to engage in text messaging behind the wheel. The first offense carries a warning, and the fine for a second offense is $100.

Drivers who are under 18 will not be able to use a cell phone at all under another new law. Motorists who are 18 to 21 can use hands-free cell phones, but motorists can’t use a hand-held cell phone until they turn 21. The law also takes effect Oct. 1. After a warning, the fine for a second offense is $50.



Mississippi extends teen licensing period

Mississippi legislators have put another speed bump in the path of teens before they gain full driving privileges with the requirement of more behind-the-wheel experience to help keep them safe.

The Legislature extended the time requirement for an intermediate license to a full year before drivers under the age of 17 can apply for a regular license, effective for all applicants beginning Oct. 1. The previous requirement allowed for only six months of driving experience before being granted full privileges.

A Mississippi teen must have held a learners permit for six months before applying for an intermediate license. Teens must be at least 15 to obtain a learners permit and then can apply for an intermediate license after six months.

An intermediate license allows unsupervised driving from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., but at all other times the intermediate licensee must be supervised by a parent, guardian or other person at least 21 with a driver’s license and who is sitting beside the driver.

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