Here in Southern California, the car is king. According to Forbes, the average commute time in the Los Angeles area is 32.3 minutes, with many people facing drive times of 90 minutes or more. While public transportation is an option for many, the use of cars continues to be as high as it’s ever been. So what does this mean for the environment?
The automobile has long been a symbol of the changing mentalities of consumers and businesses regarding eco-friendliness. Fifteen years ago, the top-selling vehicles in the United States were pickup trucks and SUVs—built for power and towing, but not for fuel economy. While these vehicles still top the list of best-sellers, they now promote their EcoBoost engines, as well as their improved fuel efficiency. In fact, it’s hard not to find advertising for a vehicle these days without the words “fuel-efficient,” and many of the most popular cars have at least some form of hybrid model. The people have spoken, and they want cars that go further with less gasoline.
It’s not only about spending less money on gasoline, either. Many people choose fuel-efficiency as a way to reduce their impact on the environment. Less petroleum means less fossil fuels being emitted into the atmosphere, amongst other things. But what if buying a hybrid or electric car, or even reducing the amount one drives, isn’t an option?
With a few simple tips, you can increase gas mileage, reduce wear on your car, and even decrease traffic in your city:
1. Start Driving Right Away: New cars don’t need to warm up for longer than a few seconds.
2. Use Engine Braking To Slow You Down: Reduce brake wear and increase mileage. Use the overdrive off button in your automatic car to achieve a similar result.
3. Don’t Bother Driving Quickly: Many people think that if they drive quickly, they will reduce time from their commute. WRONG. Even if you drive 30 miles to work, driving at 75mph will only get you to your destination 3.5 minutes faster than if you did the same trip at 65mph. At the same time, you will have spent a dollar more in gas each way, and that adds up!
4. Don’t Drive Right Behind The Car In Front of You: This is important for safety, but it’s also a factor in a much bigger event. When you follow closely behind a car, and that car brakes slightly, you will immediately have to put on your brakes. This chain reaction will continue down the line of traffic until cars have to come to a complete stop.
Think about that for a second. The first car in the line only tapped the brakes, but since everyone was following so closely, there came a point where someone had to fully stop. This is where phantom traffic jams come from. You sit in traffic and wonder where the accident is, when all of a sudden everyone starts moving as if nothing happened.
The good news is, you can single-handedly reduce traffic jams on your commute while increasing fuel-efficiency for all the cars around you. Just do two things: don’t follow closely, and slow down early by anticipating the traffic flow ahead of you.
5. Turn Off Your Car When Stopped: Use your best judgment. When you know you’ll be stopped for a while, such as a drive-thru or a long stoplight, turn your engine off. Modern cars take very little fuel to start up, and you won’t harm your car in the process.
These are just five tips to follow when driving to reduce your impact on the environment. Other methods include carpooling and using public transportation, but as an individual driver, these are easy steps to practice. Even if you own a gas guzzler, you can still be responsible of your own driving habits and bring your fuel consumption down. If cars can be more eco-friendly, so can we!
For more eco-driving tips, please visit these pages:
Top 10 Best Selling Vehicles in 2000, Edmunds.com