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Lead fuel may be a thing of the past, but the lead foot continues to thrive, and can be found on any part of the globe. Gunning the engine, racing to the next stoplight, and weaving in and out of rush-hour traffic are unsafe practices that also waste gallons of gas. Want to squeeze the most fuel economy out of the vehicle you own? Try altering the way you drive.

Slow down…

In the 1970s, the U.S. government reduced the speed limit to 55 miles per hour on all highways. Neither safety nor the environment were the concerns. Because of an international embargo on oil, gas in the U.S. was in short supply, causing long lines at the pumps across the nation. Driving slowly, the government knew, was one way to conserve what we had.

And it’s true: driving slower than the current highway speed limit of 70 mph consumes less fuel. The folks at Edmunds.com tested 3 types of vehicles on a 100-mile highway journey, and found a significant difference in savings (up to 14%) between the tests at 75 mph and 65 mph. Others have estimated that drivers will spend 54 cents a gallon for every 10 mph driven over 60.

Fuel economy decreases more rapidly the faster you drive, mostly due to wind resistance. The faster you drive, the harder the air in front of you pushes back. For example, a much greater amount of fuel is spent between 70 and 80 mph than between 60 and 70 mph. This exponential increase means those with lead feet have the most to gain by slowing down.

Avoid Quick Acceleration

Jeepney drivers in Manila like to put the pedal to the metal between stoplights, racing as fast as traffic allows, stopping suddenly when red stoplights can see the whites of their eyes.

This constant stopping, starting, and racing in between is one way to spend more gas than you have to. Do the herky-jerky and gas mileage decreases by 33% on the highway and 5% at city speeds.

Flooring the pedal from any speed and stopping on a dime doesn’t help conserve gas. Slowly ease forward when the light turns green, without causing yourself to feel like you’re being pushed back into your seat. Keep two car lengths behind the car in front to avoid sudden stops on the highway, and ease off the gas pedal well before a red light.

Keep Your Cool

Does rush hour traffic adversely alter your personality? Not only does it require those neck-snapping movements mentioned above, it may also turn on some internal competitive hot button in your brain. I’m going to get there fast, and I’m going to get there first!

Aggressive driving is one of the worst gas wasters as driving methods go, according to tests by Edmunds.com. Stop all that weaving and surging and you can realize significant savings of up to 37%. To maintain optimum mileage, turn on the cruise control for highway driving when traffic allows. If you have to commute to work, consider altering your work schedule to avoid rush hour traffic.

Conservative driving will reduce more than the amount of gas you have to put in your car. Driving moderately and safely creates less pollution and makes the world a happier, more peaceful place. If you don’t believe that, take a trip to Manila. 🙂

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