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Call to Curb Distracted Driving

distracted drivers busted1Do you talk on the phone while driving? How about reading text messages? A recent AAA survey revealed 2 out of 5 drivers admitted to checking text messages while driving, in the past 30 days.

Howard Drescher was riding his motorcycle on a busy Southern California freeway when he was hit by a driver who was talking on her phone.

In an effort to help others, Drescher created the driving safety website DistractedDriversBusted.com. He challenges you to take the “Glove Box Challenge” to improve safety on the road. Click the podcast link to find out more.

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Industry leaders converge in CA’s oil country

Rep. Kevin McCarthy , Bakersfield Native, speaks to a sold-out crowd at the West Kern Petroleum Summit (Photo: Traffic411)

Rep. Kevin McCarthy , Bakersfield Native, speaks to a sold-out crowd at the West Kern Petroleum Summit (Photo: Traffic411)

What do a Texas oil tycoon, a California Congressman and a TV game show have in common? They were all in attendance at the recent West Kern Petroleum Summit (#WKPSummit2015) in Kern County.

Hometown hero and Bakersfield native, Rep. Kevin McCarthy got the day going, telling the sold-out crowd of industry professionals how important their line of work is to the nation’s economic health.

“Oil and gas employment outpaced the total of all other private sector jobs. It brought this country back.”

McCarthy went on to moderate a panel on California energy innovations. Christina Sistrunk, CEO of Aera Energy LLC (a Shell/Exxon partnership) brought up the need to conduct fracking (hydraulic fracturing) “in an environmentally responsible way.”

Rob Duchow with the Southern California Gas Company pointed out that 52% of electricity in the state is generated by natural gas, adding that the cleanest of all fossil fuel options powers a lot of wind & solar farms ‘when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining.”

Famous oil entrepreneur T. Boone Pickens was the headliner, receiving multiple standing ovations, including one when he first appeared on stage.

Alex Trebek, T. Boone Pickens and Sheri Horn-Bunk of the Taft College Foundation backstage at the West Kern Petroleum Summit in Taft, CA (Photo: Alex Horvath)

Alex Trebek, T. Boone Pickens and Sheri Horn-Bunk of the Taft College Foundation backstage at the West Kern Petroleum Summit in Taft, CA (Photo: Alex Horvath)

In a sit-down conversation with Greta Lydecker, vice president of Chevron, ‘Boone’ talked oil and politics.  He reiterated a prediction that oil would rise to $70 a barrel within six months.

Pickens, who has been a Jeb Bush supporter, told the audience he likes another 2016 GOP presidential candidate, Carly Fiorina. He said he thought she performed the best in the debate and is “Smarter than the guys (her competition) are.”

Tune-in to my chat with Boone Pickens as he makes his case for the Keystone XL Pipeline. He also explains why he’s considering a lawsuit against the government in Ontario, Canada, and reveals the Los Angeles area beach city where he’d like to live when (if ever) he retires.

The industry executives I spoke with were optimistic about the business, even though the price of crude oil is hovering at under $50 a barrel, not far from a 52 week low.

“We’re in a commodity business,” reasoned Gene Voiland, chairman of Valley Republic Bank and former (founding) CEO of Aera Energy. “The unusual price was $100 a barrel.”

Voiland told me he doesn’t agree with federal geologist estimates, dramatically lowering the amount of recoverable oil in California’s Monterey shale formation.

“The Monterey shale has an enormous amount of oil in it. The question is, what’s it going to take to unlock it?”

Jeopardy! Host Alex Trebek emceed the event. In between panels Trebek kept the audience engaged by sharing behind-the-scenes trivia about the iconic TV game show.

Congressman Kevin McCarthy (R CA) with Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek at the 2015 West Kern Petroleum Summit (Photo: Alex Horvath)

Congressman Kevin McCarthy (R CA) with Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek at the 2015 West Kern Petroleum Summit (Photo: Alex Horvath)

One of the most interesting things for me was seeing how many women were in the audience and on stage. Aera Energy CEO Christina Sistrunk, said oil is a good business for women.

“It is an industry that really values talent, and so you do see women get the opportunity to contribute at the highest levels.”

Sistrunk, who met her husband while working on an offshore oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, told me one thing she was exited to find after agreeing to take the job in Bakersfield.

“We seem to have a more abundance of senior women here in the community. And, it adds a different dimension to working here, which I’m really enjoying.”

Aera Energy president & CEO Christina Sistrunk talks about how she found her way into, and rose to the top ranks, of the traditionally male-dominated oil industry. (Click to listen)

The event took place underneath a giant white tent in the tiny oil town of Taft, along the western edge of Kern County.  The West Kern Oil Summit is presented by the Taft College Foundation, whose goal is to provide training by working with industries to put people to work.

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Retro Road Trip: Route 66

Route66_Seligman_Motelcrop_Traffic411True to the song, Route 66 enthusiasts can get plenty of kicks in Seligman, Arizona. The main drag of this small town is a blast to the past of the days when Americans loaded the family in the Oldsmobile or Chevrolet to see the U.S.A.

When Interstate 40 was built, the once thriving small towns along Route 66 crumbled. But, as I learned by stopping into a gift shop on a trip home from Sedona, one Seligman native decided to change his destiny. Workers in Angel & Vilma Delgadillo’s store proudly told me how their boss urged Arizona lawmakers to preserve Route 66 as a historic highway.  I also learned that many of the Route 66-themed souvenirs and memorabilia sold in the store were made by local residents. Read more about Angel’s story here.

Route 66: Seligman Arizona

True to the song, Route 66 enthusiasts can get plenty of kicks in Seligman, Arizona. The main drag of this small town is a blast to the past of the days when Americans loaded the family in the Oldsmobile or Chevrolet to see the U.S.A.

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It was great to see a few tour buses parked along Main Street, as visitors shopped and got themselves a snack or burger.  If you happen to be passing through Seligman on your drive through Arizona, be sure to pull off the freeway to take in this blast to the past, cute as can be desert town.

Traffic411 Insider Tip:  Visit Seligman at night to fill up your gas tank and take in the bright vintage neon signs for many Route 66-themed roadside motels

Distance from LAX: 408 miles

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Do You Waze?

The Waze real time traffic navigation app has almost made driving fun! I’ve been commuting at rush hour recently (I don’t know how anyone does this everyday!) and, when I log on each morning, Waze offers up the most congestion route and provides the estimated arrival time.

When you Waze, your smartphone detects traffic conditions around you and shares it with other users.  Active Wazers can alert others to road hazards such as construction and accidents, red light cameras and even when a police officer is in the area.

Once you sign up, you have the option to go ‘invisible’ so others can’t see you but, since Waze is owned by Google, you can be sure your data is being collected for something.

Waze won’t replace radio traffic reports for me, but can eliminate the need for an in-vehicle navigation system. And,  it’s a fun way to learn new routes while helping you get to where you’re going in a shorter amount of time.

Waze is a free app that uses mobile crowdsourcing to provide driving directions and route users around traffic jams (Photo credit: Waze)

Waze is a free app that uses mobile crowdsourcing to provide driving directions and route users around traffic jams (Photo credit: Waze)

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Free Gas Giveaway Winner!

Congratulations,  Laura Freas of Los Angeles!  Laura has won a $25 gas card to help fill her tank as she explores some cool escape getaways across Southern California.  Big thanks to all of you who entered the Traffic411 Gas Giveaway.

The giving is just getting started at Traffic411. You can be a future winner, so be sure to join the Traffic411 community on Facebook and Twitter now so you will be the first to get in on the winning opportunities.

Coming in February: Traffic411 Couples Getaways. Explore some of the most romantic spots across Southern California, including wine tasting, beach and mountain escapes.

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Enter Now to Win a Gas Card!!

Enter to win a $25 gas card from Traffic411

Let us help you fill your tank. Enter to win a $25 gas card from Traffic411.

It only takes a minute to enter, and there are two ways to do it: 1) Click this link or 2) go to the Traffic411 Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/Traffic411) and look for the wall post to enter.

You only have until midnight on Monday, January 28, 2013 to qualify, so enter today. There will be a winner by the end of the month and it could be YOU! Please invite your friends, too. Everyone can use a little help filling their tank. (this contest is open to US residents only).

Good luck!

 

 

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CES: Connected Cars

Today’s driver has more in-car entertainment options than ever before.  And, all of the leading automakers were in Las Vegas last week showing them off at 2013 International CES, the massive consumer electronics show.

Next generation in-car entertainment (or infotainment) systems offer much more than traditional AM/FM radio.  Internet radio (iHeart, Pandora, etc.) is coming to cars, and that’s not all.  Drivers will also be able to send a text, tweet, update their Facebook status and interact with their favorite apps using voice recognition, without taking their eyes off the road.

The latest in navigation and telematics were on display, including navigation systems that incorporate real-time traffic information and can route you around trouble spots. There was also a self-driving car demo, although it will be years before that technology might ever get to market.

Read more about the Connected Car at CES:

Consumer Reports – CES 2013: The hottest car tech in Vegas

Extreme Tech – Connected Cars at CES: Automakers smarten the dashboard, keep CD player on life support

 

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Calif. dreaming at the L.A. Auto Show

From exotic to fuel-efficient, a variety of  vehicles of today and tomorrow are on display at the Los Angeles Auto Show, which opens today and runs through December 9th at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Some vehicles are making their world debut at the show, which is the first big show of the season in North America.

Auto enthusiasts can “ooh” and “ah” over more than 1,000 cars, trucks and more, including the much talked about Porsche Cayman sports coupe, and the hard-to-get Jaguar XFR-S. Only a few dozen of this much anticipated ultra-high performance Jaguar will be available for sale in the U.S.

The show will also feature a lot of fuel-efficient vehicles. If you’re considering buying a hybrid, electric or alternative fuel vehicle, it’s a great chance to see the latest models up close. The show runs until December 9, 2012. You can purchase discounted tickets to the show on the L.A. Auto Show’s website.

Technology will also be featured at the auto show, as more and more drivers are interested in connecting their iPad, iPhone and smartphones into their vehicle.

Read more about the L.A. Auto Show at KFWB.com

L.A. Auto Show runs through December 9th at the Los Angeles Convention Center, 1201 S. Figueroa Street, Los Angeles, CA


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