Daily Archives: April 8, 2014

Gas Prices Hit New Highs For 2014

Weeks Of Gas Price Increases Bring Cost Within Striking Distance Of $4.00 Per Gallon In Some Areas

weekly gas price trendThe cost of a gallon of gas just went up for the ninth consecutive week, bringing the average gas price in the United States to $3.60 per gallon, the highest it has been in 2014 and the highest national average since the September 2, 2013 survey from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. This week’s survey shows the current national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded went up nearly 2¢ per gallon, bringing the current cost of fuel to nearly the same point it was a year ago. That effectively erases the year-over-year gains drivers had enjoyed as recently as two months ago. As it stands, prices are almost exactly where they were at the end of summer last year, and there is no indication a break will come any time soon for drivers.

Bad News As 2014 Summer Driving Season Approaches

The current spate of price increases has been predicted by TurnpikeInfo.com since the middle of February, based upon a host of factors that emerged in defiance of earlier government forecasts, which had predicted gas prices would decline through 2014. While only the second quarter has started, current circumstances show the price of gas will continue to rise for the foreseeable future.

NYMEX trading floor

Trading floor of the New York Mercantile Exchange, where WTI is traded. File photo source: Getty Images.

For one, crude oil spiked to a new high for the year as West Texas Intermediate closed well above $102 per barrel Tuesday, the highest it has been in about a month. Part of the rise was investor speculation about oil inventories going to the Cushing, Oklahoma storage facility, which have declined for a tenth consecutive week. While a significant amount crude oil going to refineries is now able to bypass the Cushing storage facility, WTI contracts are traded off supplies at the facility. Crude supplies at Cushing are currently down 35%, according to the EIA.

The tight supply issue is further complicated by an exacerbated Ukraine crisis, which has flared up once more. Russia has warned Ukraine to halt military exercises in the eastern portion of that nation or risk a civil war. Many ethnic Russians live in the eastern portion of Ukraine. The renewed saber-rattling on the part of Russia has caused additional speculation that energy supplies through Ukraine could be disrupted. That has cause Brent Light Sweet Crude to rise, pushing the Brent to over $107 as of Tuesday.

Add to that mix the new summer blends of gas, which require ethanol – there is currently a shortage of ethanol and prices are at eight-year highs – and the immediate future for the price of gas is one that trends higher.

Truckers Catch Break As Diesel Prices Dip

Truckers are the only drivers on America’s highways that are enjoying a break this week. In fact, diesel fuel prices have retreated from their 2014 highs and are now down to a U.S. average of just $3.96 per gallon. That price point is down about 1.5¢ from the previous week. The lowest price for diesel is to be found on the Gulf Coast, where the coast of a gallon of fuel is about $3.79. However, many regions are still seeing prices well above $4.00 per gallon. The costliest fuel is to be found in the New England states, where the average price is about $4.24 per gallon.

DOWNLOAD THE WEEKLY GAS PRICE SURVEY

 

Florida DOT Warns Of Possible Toll Scam

Collection Notices From Unknown “Toll Enforcement” Company Raise Red Flags, Prompt Warning To Drivers

FDOT Logo

A possible toll collection scam in Florida has prompted the state’s transportation department to issue a warning to drivers.

Drivers on Florida’s Turnpike and other state and county toll roads are being warned today of a potentially fraudulent collection effort on the part of a company called Toll Enforcement, LLC, which may be attempting to dupe drivers into sending payments. A news release detailing the scheme was sent to news media in Florida Tuesday afternoon, and it was accompanied by pictures of real toll violation notices. However, state officials stopped short of calling the  collection an outright toll scam.

“We’re calling it an alleged fraud collection practice until we have proof that it’s otherwise,” said Chad Huff, spokesman for the Florida Department of Transportation. Mr. Huff made is comments during an interview with TurnpikeInfo.com. “It’s better to say it’s a company that’s operating that we’re not familiar with.”

However, FDOT is requesting anyone who receives a notice from Toll Enforcement, LLC to immediately contact the Sunpass operations center by calling 888-865-5352. State officials say they will send any evidence they receive to law enforcement. “We work closely with Florida Highway Patrol, and Miami-Dade Police Department seems to have taken quite an interest in it,” Mr. Huff said. Miami-Dade’s interest may be due, in part, with the fact another company was reportedly targeting drivers in South Florida just last year. That company was called Law Enforcement Systems, LLC, and it was sending similar notices, according to a series of forum posts on City-Data.com.

Real Toll Collection Notices Contain Key Information About Driver And Their Car

Sample of a real toll collection notice

Example of a real toll collection notice. Key information, including the date, time and location of the toll violation, will be shown. Crucially, the driver’s car will be pictured, as well.

Mr. Huff said anyone who receives a legitimate toll violation notice will notice a number of key data points, including a picture of the owner’s car and license plate, something he said is missing on the notices from Toll Enforcement, LLC. “They always say the devil is in the details. Our documents always have a large amount of detail,” he said.

“Any document that is sent by FDOT, that is attempting to collect an unpaid toll, will clearly be marked with FDOT logos,” Mr. Huff added. “Probably more important than anything, it will contain an exact date, time [and] location of the infraction.” Examples of the real FDOT toll violations notices are shown on this post, which clearly spell out the data Mr. Huff has mentioned.

Huff pointed out another element that is indicative of the alleged fake collection notices is that they do not accept credit cards or personal checks. “Our toll collections, at least after the fact, make it very easy to pay using a credit card or a check,” Mr. Huff said.

Examples Of Real Toll Violation Notices

Front of a real toll violation notice.

Front side of a real toll violation notice sent by the Florida Department of Transportation.

reverse side of a real toll violation notice in Florida

Reverse side of a real toll violation notice sent by the State of Florida. Note the contact information at the bottom, which is missing from the alleged fake toll violation notices.

Sample of a real toll collection notice

Real toll collection notices in Florida will contain the date, time and location of the toll violation. Moreover, a picture of  the driver’s car will be shown.

reverse of another type of legitimate toll collection notice

Real toll violation notices include information about the Florida Department of Transportation. The alleged fake notices do not. The real notices also include contact information for the Sunpass Customer Service Center in Boca Raton, Florida.