Changing driving habits
I called my girlfriend Mandy this morning and the first thing we started talking about was the gas prices. Shock and awe have hit the summer waves again this year and this year it is even worse. We are using more gasoline this year then we did last year. In fact, at the end of April 2007, we were using mid-May, 2006 levels of gasoline consumption. We are now using over 10,000 gallons of oil and petroleum products a second. Included in that 10,000 is our use of over 4,600 gallons of motor gasoline a SECOND!
I asked Mandy what she was doing about the price of gasoline and she said she was no longer buying the best gas, “you know, like Chevron or Shell.” Mandy may be saving herself a couple of pennies a gallon at the pump, but she has not changed her driving habit’s and she has not cut out any trips. The only way to get the price of gasoline to go down is to stop using so much gasoline. But how can we do that and still do everything we need, and want, to do?
Were not talking about silly ideas such as boycotting gasoline for a day. Drastic measures call for drastic times. Here are some simple, and not so simple, ideas that would make a dent in our gasoline usage:
1. A really good way to reduce fuel consumption would be to make the diamond/ high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes truck lanes in off-peak hours. (anytime except 6-10 am and 3-7 pm). This would give truckers an incentive to be in urban areas before the rush hours or after them, freeing up the highways for people scurrying to work.
Why? Fuel savings to the trucker, retail price savings to the consumer.
On average a long-hauler drives 130,000 miles per year. At 6 mpg the long-hauler purchases 21,667 gallons of gas per year. By saving just 1/3 mpg, there would be a savings of close to 1,032 gallons of gas a year. There are approximately 1,250,000 long-haulers on the road yearly, bringing the savings of fuel to 12,900,000 gallons of fuel yearly. The demand of diesel has risen, causing the price to average around $2.79 a gallon, saving truckers $35,991,000, a year.
How about if we start with port cities such as Los Angeles? Los Angeles is a metropolis that houses one of the busiest ports in the nation. There would be an added incentive to truckers to not travel during the congested rush hours if they knew they would have full use of the carpool lanes from 10-3. Besides the safety implications, truckers would save fuel and time, which could show up in the retail price of the next product you buy.
At the end of the year, new clean diesel engines will come back into the United States market. Because we have been using so much gasoline and not as much diesel we have been trading with Europe. Europe gets our clean diesel and we import already refined motor gasoline at an extra-added cost of $15-20 a barrel. We need to free up that diesel to allow more diesel fuel and clean diesel engines in the United States.
2. Shut down all drive-thrus. Do you know that burger and fries or the Venti non-fat latte that you just have to have? Do you really need to add another gallon of gas to the equation? Oh, all right, how about if you don’t use the drive-thru if there are two or people in line. I sat in congestion for 20 minutes and wasted fifteen miles. In the Volvo S80 that is 3/4s of a gallon of gas. Save the gas and get some exercise by walking to the fast-food joint.
3. Don’t leave your car running when you’re waiting for someone, even for a minute – Austin is seventeen years old and he goes to a high school in another city. His Mother takes him halfway and his friend picks him up and takes him the rest of the way. If his Mother gets to the drop-off site early, she turns the car off and they wait. If his friend, Chris, gets to the drop-off early he leaves his car running. “Does a minute make that big of a difference, doesn’t it take more gasoline to start the car again?” The algorithms on the new car make it more efficient to turn the car off. Idling your engine for one minute is about the same amount of gasoline it takes to start your engine.
4. Don’t use reverse – Heidi is a schoolteacher at Sierra Hills, K-2nd. She drives to work every morning, zipping into a parking place. In the afternoon she literally reverses her commute, reversing out of the parking place she drove into in the morning. Try parking in a place you don’t have to reverse out of and it will save a small amount of gasoline.
5. Drive slower “ the rule of thumb I learned was that you save about 15 percent by going 15 miles per hour slower. If you go 55 mph instead of 70 you will save fifteen percent more fuel.
6. Cruise control “ big difference even if you cant use it all the time.
We have crude to refine, but our refineries aren’t producing as much gasoline as they can. We are seeing turmoil in the politically troubled Nigeria, where pipelines were just blown up and some oil employees were kidnapped. Iran is another country to watch. And don’t forget homegrown problems; we haven’t gotten to the hurricane season and we haven’t hit the peak driving season for the summer.
Have all the fun you’ve had every year, just remember, the less gasoline we all use, the less we will have to spend on gasoline and the more we can spend on anything else.
Have a great summer!