We don't have to drive an electric, propane fueled or solar powered automobile to be "green conscious." Our everyday habits can contribute to saving precious fuel by the way we drive. And, we can also save on repair bills and keep our autos safer and on the road longer by being conscious of how we operate our cars. Here are a few of the ways we can be kinder to Mother Earth.
- Don't accelerate fast when taking off from a dead stop. It takes much more fuel to overcome inertia in a fast take-off than to accelerate slowly or keep the car moving at a constant speed. When we accelerate quickly we use up a lot of fuel more quickly and tax the engine. Accelerate smoothly and drive as if you have an egg between your foot and the accelerator. Your car will thank you and you will use less fuel.
- Anticipate red lights and stops. I am amazed at people who accelerate to be the first one at a red light. Be aware of the timing of lights. This is particularly evident in your neighborhood where you spend most of your time driving and can be most familiar with the timing of your local stop lights. If you time the light by watching it from a distance and not accelerating to it and anticipate when it turns green, you don't have to brake to stop for it and can, more than likely, cruise through it after it turns green (but be careful and watch for red light violators, also).
- Shut your car off when you are not driving. People seem to use their automobiles as their mobile office in shopping center and grocery store parking lots. Rolling your windows up and keeping the air conditioning on while you make a few phone calls is a huge waste of gasoline. Most of the time, in Arizona, the weather is beautiful and you can sit with the windows down to make your calls. If it's too hot or too cold outside, sit inside a store. Please don't waste gasoline while sitting in your car. Shut it off if you will be sitting for more than a minute or two. Some people believe that they are saving gasoline by letting it idle and not starting their car up after a few minutes of being off. Not true. Starting it up again after waiting for a couple of minutes does save gasoline. By letting it idle, you are wasting gasoline which makes it more expensive for everyone. And, you are causing more pollution.
- Don't tailgate, particularly on freeways. Why is this wasteful? Because, chances are good that you will get into an accident. Think of the waste of having to repair your car, even for small damages that require you to rent another vehicle while your main vehicle is being repaired. Driving with the flow of traffic permits you to cruise without having to step on your brakes, which is also wasteful by wearing them down.
- Drive the speed limit. I know that you're thinking that you need to get home after work as soon as possible to watch cartoons, but driving over the speed limit (generally 65mph) is a waste of gasoline. Automobiles are less efficient the faster they travel above 65.
- Don't try to accelerate into a lane from a perpendicular stop when you see a number of other cars coming. There will be a break in the action. Be patient and wait for it and you won't have to try go fast enough to avoid getting hit by the car behind you when you pull into his /her lane.
- Drive in the center lane whenever possible. The right lane is primarily used for right turns. You don't need to get stuck behind a line of cars that are waiting to turn right and for buses that make frequent stops. The left lane is for passing and turning left. Whenever possible, stay in the center lane and cruise as comfortably as possible until you need to make a left or right turn.
- Do you really need that huge SUV? Sure, you may think you're safer, but the National Transportation Board says not. Don't haul around 6 to 12,000 pounds of automobile when you don't need to. Tundra, Sequoia, Battleship Missouri and Hummer - all names for gas hogs. You are not your automobile and you don't need to drive an Escalade to impress the neighbors.
Be conscious of what's going on around you. Your first job in driving an automobile is to concentrate on your task of driving. Eating, drinking, fixing your makeup, texting or talking on the phone do not have their place in an automobile, if your job is driving. I may be the first one who has ever told you this, so listen up. I'm out there too and I would prefer to be safe and pay the least amount of money possible when I fill up my tank. So remember, you and your habits affect everyone around you when you drive, including Mother Earth.