The rapid rise in gas prices has caught the experts and consumers off-guard. This reminds me of the same wake-up call that America received from the Arab Oil Crisis of the Seventies. So stupid that we are not better prepared with the right types of cars and mass transportation – like they are in much of Europe. So the only way to cope is to Change our Own Driving Habits. I noticed how important this is as I drove my 1995 Jeep on the highway and around town. The Instantaneous Mileage read-out showed how much difference I could make if I would slow down and quit moving so fast. So I have found the best advice for my readers about how to save money, lives and the environment. Read on and Enjoy the Pix (Click to view larger!!)
When David Champion is behind the wheel of a car, he accelerates slowly and brakes gingerly. He tries to drive, he says, as if there were a cup of coffee on the dashboard that would shower him with scalding liquid if he were overzealous with the accelerator or the brake. The driving habits adopted by Champion, director of automobile testing for Consumer Reports, have as much to do with saving money as they do with safety.
“When you’re driving, your foot is connected to your wallet,” said Champion. “The faster you step down, the more money comes out of your wallet.” With the price of gasoline hitting record levels, consumers would be well-advised to listen to Champion and other experts on ways to save fuel and hold down costs. ….
Consumer Reports’ Champion said that while learning to drive smoothly can save a lot on gas, there are other steps consumers can take to improve fuel efficiency. Just slowing down from 75 miles per hour to 70 mph can significantly improve gas mileage, he said. “Basically, the faster you drive, the amount of fuel you use increases exponentially,” Champion said. “So 80 uses much more than 75, and 75 uses much more than 70. You want to aim for 55; that’s the sweet spot.”
Champion also suggests consumers opt for lower-grade gasoline. “Often there’s a sticker (inside a vehicle) that says ‘premium gas recommended.’ But if you read the owner’s manual, it will say that’s recommended but the vehicle will run fine on regular fuel,” he said. It’s worth a try, he added, since it can cut costs by at least 20 cents a gallon or more. And if the engine starts to ping, you can always go back to premium fuel, he said.
Champion also suggests drivers not leave their cars idling for long periods, burning unnecessary gas. “If you’re going to be waiting more than 30 seconds, turn the engine off,” he said. That doesn’t apply to waiting at a traffic light, he added, because “if something happens in front of you, or an ambulance comes up behind you, you may have to move quickly, and turning off the engine could be a danger.” And while Champion advocates shopping around for the best gas price, he doesn’t advise long jaunts. “Driving around and using $10 worth of gas to save a penny a gallon doesn’t make much sense,” he concluded.
New York, NY – A new telephone survey of 1,000 Americans, conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs on behalf of Access America Travel Insurance and Assistance, has found that 67% have already changed their driving habits because of gas price increases. Among those who have changed their driving, the median gas price at which they did so was $3.20 per gallon, a level that was reached back in March.
As the price at the pump continues to rise, more and more Americans will be changing their driving habits: at $3.00 per gallon, 35% of Americans had changed their habits; by $4.00 per gallon — a reality in many parts of the U.S. already —, it will be 74%; and by $5.00 per gallon, 85% of all Americans will have changed their driving habits. However, one in ten Americans (9%) say they will never change their driving habits, regardless of the how high the price climbs.
In an effort to save on gas, Americans first tend to reduce non-essential driving. More than a quarter (26%) say that cutting back on travel or recreational driving is the first substantial change they made or will make due to rising gas prices. One in five (21%) say the first thing they did or will do is to consolidate or reduce errands (21%). Fewer Americans first look to alternate forms of transportation such as carpooling (7%), walking or biking when possible (6%), or using public transportation more often (4%). Only 3% say that the first thing they did or will do is buy a more fuel-economic car or a hybrid.
Gasoline at nearly $4 a gallon may cast a cheerless cloud over summer travel. But Americans ought not be discouraged and perhaps they might even be grateful – as prices in Europe reach $9. Even more, US drivers should be ready for an energy makeover. After the initial gasp at rising pump prices, people are indeed starting to alter their lifestyles.
The number of miles driven in March was 4.3 percent lower than a year ago, the largest decline since 1942. As more errands are consolidated and pleasure trips deferred, the shift in habits could become permanent. That may even help bring down gas prices and reduce a high US dependence on foreign oil.
Countries that boost their energy efficiency gain a competitive advantage and can prosper. But consider any changes in behavior as a warm-up for the coming government mandates aimed at reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. Transportation in the US uses two-thirds of the oil consumed. All Americans must do their share to curb global warming, not just business and industry.
Americans can make sure they don’t drive with the car trunk or truck bed weighted down with unnecessary stuff that cuts mileage. They can carpool to replace some or all of their commuting. If possible, they can explore working from home all or part of the time. Or move closer to their workplace or near a public-transit stop. A new website – drivesmarterchallenge.org – sponsored by the Alliance to Save Energy, helps drivers calculate how much they can save in cold cash by making simple, inexpensive changes to their driving habits. The higher gas prices go, the more their efficiency will pay them back.
With gas prices so high, the media is awash with lists of gas-saving tips. Well how’s this for a tip? If you listen to us, you can see hybrid-type savings without having to buy a new car. By changing your driving habits you can improve fuel economy up to 37 percent right away (depending on how you drive). Combine several tips and perform routine maintenance and you will save real dollars, not just pennies.
A miracle? All we did was take several of the most common tips out there and put them to the test over a remote 55-mile route in the high desert of California. Some of them worked like a charm. Some of them didn’t work at all. We’ll give you the breakdown. These tests were done under real-world conditions — not in a government lab somewhere. Our results can be matched by anyone — even you.
The wonderful part about what we found is that improving your car’s mileage is just a matter of changing your habits. Stack a few of these winners together and we’ll bet that you’ll see a substantial savings at the pump — without the need for a new car.
- Test #1 – Aggressive Driving vs. Moderate Driving
Result: Major savings potential
The Cold Hard Facts: Up to 37 percent savings, average savings of 31 percent
Recommendation: Stop driving like a maniac.
- Test #2 – Lower Speeds Saves Gas
Result: Substantial savings on a long trip
Cold Hard Facts: Up to 14 percent savings, average savings of 12 percent
Recommendation: Drive the speed limit.
- Test #3 – Use Cruise Control
Result: Surprisingly effective way to save gas
Cold Hard Facts: Up to 14-percent savings, average savings of 7 percent
Recommendation: If you’ve got it, use it.
- Test #4 – A/C On, Windows Up vs. A/C Off, Windows Down
Result: Nice in theory; not true in practice
Cold Hard Facts: No measurable difference (unless you open the sunroof, too!)
Recommendation: Please, make yourself comfortable.
- Test #5 – Check Your Tire Pressure
Result: Important for safety and to reduce tire wear
Cold Hard Facts: No measurable effect on the vehicles we tested
Recommendation: Check your tire pressure often but don’t expect a big savings.
- Test #6 – Avoid Excessive Idling
Result: More important than we assumed
Cold Hard Facts: Avoiding excessive idling can save up to 19 percent
Recommendation: Stopping longer than a minute? Shut ‘er down.
The good news is that you can drastically improve your gas mileage. The caveat is that you have to change your driving habits. If you are willing to change, you’ll find many related benefits too: no speeding tickets, greater safety, reduced stress and lower repair bills for tires and brake pads. In the long run this will save you money. And who knows? You might like the new you.
This has always been a good question. The answer, however, does not lie at the gas pump, it lies elsewhere. It actually lies within YOU! Crazy, I know. Here me out. One of the biggest problems in decreased gas mileage and fuel efficiency is actually your driving habits. I know you’ve heard it all before, but you can really do something about it if you try. Take the following steps and try one of them each day.
- Step1: Speeding. Ah, yes, the age-old adage that you need to SLOW DOWN. But don’t just do it for your health. Do it for your wallet. Going speeds of over 65 miles per hour can decrease your gas mileage as much as 40%! OUCH! Try to keep it lower. And believe it or not, if you go this speed, you will only take on average around 5 minutes longer to reach your destination. A price that is worth more than it’s weight in gold.
- Step2: Tailgating. If you bumper buddy the guy in front of you, you must drive more erratically. You never know what the guy in front of you is going to do. You must accelerate and brake harshly in order to stay glued to his bumper. Stay your distance. If you simply must pass him, do it. Don’t let him know he has to speed up. That is his choice. You need to worry about yourself and your wallet, not other people’s. It is not only safer, but also more fuel efficient.
- Step 3: Jackrabbit starts. Yep, peeling out may look cool off of the green light, but you pay for it. Figuratively and literally. You reduce fuel economy by around 21% every time you burn out. I hope you impressed someone when you did it because that is a hefty price to pay for 2 seconds of fun.
- Step 4: Harsh Braking. When you brake harshly, that means you are using fuel all the way until you have to brake, which is a total waste. Allow your car to slow to a stop by itself. It is much better for the car and your brakes and your gas and your wallet and your… do I need to go on?
- Step 5: Excessive Idling. Sitting at the drive through? Waiting for the bank teller? Drive-thru Pharmacy taking awhile? Shut that baby off. If you are going to be idling for more than 1 minute, turn off your engine. It takes more fuel to keep it running than if you just stopped and started it again.
If you follow these five easy steps, you will see a TREMENDOUS improvement in your gas mileage. But you will also be safer on the road. Your car will last longer because you are not as rough on it, which will, in turn give you a longer and better running engine. It is great to be safe. And it is great to save money, too!
More Information is Available:
Consumer Report’s fuel-saving tips can be found at http://www.consumerreports.org/fuel
The nonprofit Alliance to Save Energy calculator http://www.DriveSmarterChallenge.org
The U.S. government has beefed up its consumer site, http://www.fueleconomy.gov,