Motivated by General Geekery

Best Gas Tip by the Numbers

Written By: der5er - Jun• 10•08

I’ve written about saving gas before, but it always bears repeating–especially when gas prices are inching above $4 a gallon!  To summarize my previous post:

There’s one thing that can save you tons of gas. You need to change the nut behind the wheel. If you (the nut) change your driving style to be closer to that of an old lady in an 82 Buick, instead of Ricky Bobby (”Momma I’m goin fast!”), you’ll very likely save a lot of gas!

Lifehacker is writing about gas savings, too.  Their biggest single savings tip, in my humble opinion, is the same as mine: drive slower. 

Drive the speed limit. Unless you’re driving across the entire country speeding won’t save you more than a few minutes, will cost you more in gas, and increase the chance of being involved in an accident.

Of course, if you read the comments, many people complain that this tip always comes up and that people following this tip slow down their commute, or that it isn’t practical.  My answer?  Do the math. 

According to an ABC News Poll in 2005, the average commute is 16 miles.  That’s it.  If it’s all highway driving (which I’m sure it isn’t), slowing down from 70 mph to 55 mph will add a little over 3 and a half minutes to that 16 mile commute.  That’s right, speeding is saving you a whopping 3 and a half minutes. 

For those of you who do your 16 miles on surface streets, your 3 and a half minute savings may vary, but your speed actually matters even less, because you’ve got to deal with stop signs and traffic lights.  If you’ve really got your foot in it and you’re accelerating as quickly as you can, you are probably just slamming on the brakes at the red light 500 feet in front of you. fully tested the “Don’t drive like Ricky Bobby” tip and found that you can save 37% on your fuel economy just by driving like an old lady.  Lets see…37 percent better fuel economy, what’s that really mean?  Let’s put that in wallet terms.  If you’re getting 22 mpg, each mile costs you 18 cents at $4 per gallon.  If you’re getting 30.14 mpg (37% better than 22 mpg), each mile costs you 13 cents.  So, your 16 mile commute could save as much as 78 cents ($2.90 at 22 mpg, $2.12 at 30.14 mpg).  Over a week (16 miles each way, 5 times a week), you might save $7.85!  That’s savings. 

Now, let’s expand those numbers for something other than the ‘average’ commute.  I drive 30 miles to work and normally get about 16 miles per gallon (company truck, company gas card).  If I drive 70 mph, it will take me 26 minutes to get there.  At 55 it will take 32 minutes.  Of course, that’s without traffic.  At 16 mpg, I’ll spend 25 cents per mile, or $7.50 each way.  At 18.4 mpg (I lowered the 37% number to 15% because it’s a full-size Chevy 4WD), I’ll spend just 21 cents per mile, $6.52 each way.  Over the week, I could save my employer $9.78 on my commute.  Hmm… I think I need to have this talk with my employees.

What’s your best gas tip?

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