Friday, June 20, 2008

How Going Green has made me a Better Driver

How Going Green has made me a better driver

Or Why going green can save you some green.

I used to be the typical left lane driver. I was that asshole passing you on the highway while you were driving the speed limit, or even faster, in my little sports car listening to my music loudly with my nice sunglasses on. Hell I could even be considered a yuppie by some standards. I used to pride myself on being able to control my car effectively at high speeds, careening through curves like it was the Indy 500. But not anymore.

I never read into any of this “Go Green” propaganda. I am not a hippie, nor a Gore-supporter, or even an environmentalist in any way shape or form; I’m not going to lie to you that I lean right on almost every issue. If that stops you from reading my article so be it, but you would do well listening to what I have to say. My eyes have been opened to a “greener” way of life.

I always advocated alternate energy sources, even from back to primary and secondary school. I had done several reports, projects, and presentations on the benefits of Solar, Hydro-Electric, and Wind power. It fascinated me – how something so simple and pure as the sun, water, and wind, were never harnessed to their full potential, and are virtually infinite, whereas fossil fuels are finite.

Regardless of your political affiliation or creed, we can all agree on one thing: Everyone likes money. And after doing a little research I have compiled various ways you can alter your habits (mostly driving) to save yourself a little cash, and do something good for the environment by conserving.

The biggest, and most prominent, as well as the easiest change to make, is very simple.

    Take your foot off the accelerator.

A car engine, regardless of the number of cylinders, is most efficient in the 50-60 MPH range. Studies show that you lose upwards of 30% efficiency as you surpass that mark and hit the higher speeds. The easiest way to combat this (specifically on the highway) is just simply stay out of the fast lane. Abide by the speed limit – stay around 55 mph and you will certainly improve your mpg. I commute about 20 miles each way every day, sometimes even more when I head to school for night classes, and I was able to significantly increase my mpg in my little V4 Celica (which already does pretty well). I also noticed that those extra 10 or so MPH only decreased my commute time by a few minutes, hardly noticeable when you think about it.

Coasting is another good way to stop burning excess fuel. I am not saying to go back to the early days and gain all of your speed from traveling down hill, but it would serve you well to not use your accelerator while you travel down hill. You would be surprised as to how much you can travel without even touching the accelerator. As long as you are paying attention and make sure that you watch to stay above 25/35 mph (depending on the zone).

Inching, as opposed to gassing your way up a few car lengths when waiting at a stoplight, is a good way to save on gas, as well as take it easy on your brakes.

I would go into advanced techniques, such as riding the slip-stream behind trucks, but I wanted to keep this article as safe and as simple as possible.

Just thinking about these small things while you drive can not only increase your gas mileage and help save the environment, but also make you a better and more defensive driver. Young people should take this to heart, and for those of you who don’t fall under that category, maybe a quick refresher isn’t that bad.

A real easy, but a little more pricey way to save money on gas by increasing your MPG is obviously to purchase a more efficient and usually smaller car. However most people forget about our 2 wheeled friends - the motorcycle, or my favourite - the scooter. You can get ridiculous MPG on these little babies, but unfortunately, what they gain in that - they lack in storage capacity, top speed, and power. Some scooters aren't even highway legal - which negates traveling on longer trips with them. However if you want a little thing just for running errands or cruising around town, perhaps a scooter isn't such a bad idea. Personally - I am looking into a Honda Elite 80 or a Metropolitan. Perfect for zipping around my hometown, or even my college.

I hope that I have helped you by reading this, or if not, at least peaked your interest a little bit more.

Look here again for new upcoming articles, including ways to convert a diesel engine to take vegetable oil or bio-diesel, utilizing alternate energy sources for power, and many other ways to save some green by going green.

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