My family loves to drive, including me! We like to take our vacations by car, and we like to take the long way home sometimes. My parents grew up during a time when fuel prices weren’t as good as they are now, and they mention sometimes how nice it is to be able to use more of it.
However, I feel bad about the gas we guzzle, even though we can afford it. I worry that our consumption is hurting the environment. Experts, what should we do?
No question about it: burning fossil fuels is not great for the environment. Car exhaust is a major factor in environmental problems, like pollution and global warming. Lucky for us, there’s a great deal we can do to minimize the impact of our driving habits on the globe, even if we don’t want to give up driving altogether!
We Americans tend to be a gas-guzzling people. Part of that, no doubt, is due to the way our population is spread out across our country. Other factors include the way our infrastructure is arranged. However, no matter what the cause, our consumption is a problem for the environment. We use nearly 400 million gallons of gas a day, despite the significant pollution-related legislation already on the books in our country.
What can you do about this? The best thing to do, of course, is to cut back on driving. Using public transportation can significantly reduce your carbon footprint. Or, you could team up with friends, family, and coworkers to try to carpool to and from more places that you would drive to and from alone.
Not all fuel-saving measures involve driving less. In theory, you can change your carbon footprint while still driving the same amount! If you drive a more efficient vehicle, like a hybrid, you’ll use less gas while driving the same distance. And any vehicle will be more fuel-efficient the better maintained it is, note the educators at NYADI which is an automotive & diesel training technology college in New York. Take it from truckers and other individuals and businesses whose income depends in part on their ability to save gas! Experts specializing in diesel repair tell us that no truck lover worth his or her salt would go very long between maintenance check-ups for his or her truck’s engine. Skimping on those reduces fuel efficiency and increases the likelihood of parts failure, which, in the world of trucking, is a major financial concern!
Another thing we can learn from truckers is how to drive. Ever notice that large trucks tend to travel at constant speeds, often a bit slower than traffic? They’re maximizing their fuel efficiency by hitting the sweet spot on their speedometer. You can also reduce gas consumption by changing the way you drive: the less aggressive acceleration and braking you do, the better.
So, you don’t have to give up driving altogether, though you would be doing the environment a favor if you cut back a bit. Just make sure that you’re driving efficient vehicles in efficient ways and taking advantage of basic strategies like carpooling. Our planet will thank you.
“Energy costs are getting higher, and the cheapest energy is the energy you don’t use.” - Paul Pettipas