Sunday, November 1, 2009

Drive smart = save gas = save planet

I've been meaning to write a post about how considerate and careful driving can actually save the planet. Yes, it actually can. You know those idiots who have to gun the gas to go one block and then slam on the breaks? They are burning quite a lot of unnecessary fuel. I was stuck in a car last spring with a woman who did this just from one side of my small town to the other. She must have hit 45 miles an hour in the busy downtown area where the speed limit is 25, and she didn't get me home any faster. Not to mention I find driving like that very disrespectful to the passenger. Especially when that passenger is me.

I recommend visiting for some very helpful tips on how to save gas that go beyond the obvious making sure your tires are properly inflated. To save you time and sum up the site the rules are pretty simple:
  • Drive sensibly: Our government reminds you that "Aggressive driving - speeding, rapid acceleration and braking wastes gas. It can lower your gas mileage by 33 percent at highway speeds and by 5 percent around town." I believe it. I love when I see a Prius speeding and weaving down the highway. That is the truest form of hypocrisy I can think of.
  • Remove excess weight: This is one I am always guilty of. The back of my car currently contains a jogging stroller, a 22 pound SCUBA weight belt I've been too lazy to take out, a beach chair, various beach toys and a 1 gallon jug of windshield washer fluid. I estimate that's about 40 pounds of unnecessary weight.
  • Don't idle: There are actually laws about this which you can check by state here. In Massachusetts you can't idle for more than 5 minutes or you will be fined not less than $100.
  • Don't speed: This graph says it all. As tempting as it is to fly down the interstate at 80 miles an hour it is actually extremely inefficient. Highest fuel economy is around 55 and drops fast after 65 miles an hour.
I hope I have convinced you to take a deep breathe and calmly depress your accelerator the next time you take off after a green light. You'll be doing our planet a favor. A big thanks to Small at Reduce Footprints for reminding me that I've been meaning to write about this for some time now. Sensible driving and taking care of your car is the theme of this week's Change the World Wednesday Challenge.


  1. We get, in our wonderful little Honda Civic (2001) a great 40mph at 70 on the highway, which makes me wonder what we would get at 60! My husband, when he drives my car, always apologizes when he speeds up more than necessary for some reason. We try so hard to conserve gas, and I absolutely LOVE to ride the bus to the gym every morning. Many times I've only gotten my car out once or twice for the week. Thanks for making me feel virtuous!

  2. And my Beaker is always on the look out to save money as well - we have reduced fuel consumption costs (which are hideously expensive in France) by quite a bit by driving more harmoniously... Great post!

  3. Kate! I finally made it here! As you know, I drive an obnoxiously large SUV -- but it has the 4 cylinder/8 cylinder feature which makes it much more fuel efficient, better than most minivans, actually. But I am guilty of speeding on the highway. And tell the truth -- was Bev the woman who drove you across town? :-)

  4. Kate...I am very proud to say that I drove my bike smartly, I save gas, because it doesn't gas, while the truck and SUV are comfortably parked in the garage haha. We only use it for long drives.


  5. I do my part on this and I drive a 4 cylinder Honda that conserves on gas consumption too. Our city issues citations for cars that are left idling. It has really made a difference too. Used to be cars stopped and drivers left their cars to idle all the time. Not anymore.

  6. I have revamped my driving habits and have noticed a big difference and I don't let my truck idle anymore while it warms up. It is amazing how little changes can make such a difference.

  7. (sheepishly raises hand) Guilty as charged. I promise to try harder. No more jackrabbit starts.

  8. I been driving less and I've slowed down and my car has gotten far better mileage. If I could just get my hubby to do the same our savings would be huge.

  9. So happy to hear most of you already drive a fuel efficient car or at least try to drive calmly. It's hard to be perfect all the time though :) I'm sure not.

    And full disclosure: my husband and I both drive low mileage (26 mpg) Subaru Outbacks (same color even, purchased long before we met :) but I haven't touched mine in 5 days so i guess it evens out. When one of them dies though we're getting a diesel VW which get higher mileage than a hybrid.

    And Ana, it wasn't Bev believe it or not ;) Thanks for reading everyone! Happy driving!


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