Monday, April 11, 2011

Driving Smart: A Lenten Carbon Fast Challenge

Driving smart is fun!Everytime you hit your brakes, you're wasting fuel. Your car converts fuel into momentum to get you where you're headed and, (unless you're driving a hybrid or electric car with regenerative braking), your brakes convert that momentum into heat. What a waste!
The challenge is to get from here to there with an absolute minimum of breaking. This is a challenge - and challenges are the basis of everything fun!
The basic technique is to be aware, very aware, of everything going on on the road and committed, very committed, to not getting sucked into meaningless contests. It can be an awkward social dance, deciding who goes in front of whom, but there's no point zooming ahead of someone only to hit the brakes at the next light.
It really helps to know your road. If you have a regular commute, you can build up a whole lot of practical knowledge about where to put the clutch in and coast to a stop instead of staying at full speed and then hitting the brakes.
Another part of driving smart is to have a good grasp of practical math  On a short trip, going 75 instead of 60 will get you there maybe one or two minutes sooner. On a long trip, this may add up to an hour or two but the higher rate of gas consumption means you spend some of that savings gassing up more often. Add to that the time you spend making the money that you put into your gas tank, with a due allowance for the aded wear on your care from going faster, and I doubt that you actually save time driving faster - you just can't see it if you're not used to calculating costs.

The third element of driving smart comes from a story someone told me long ago.
"An experienced martial arts student was driving to the dojo's annual seminar when he encountered heavy traffic. He used all his training and skills to keep cool and to manuver decisively and precisely, to ensure he arrived on time.
The dojo senior instructor encountered the same traffic. He realized that risky driving was inappropriate; he'd rather be late than risk injuring himself or others through speedy maneuvers.
The school master was already there; he had anticipated the possibility the traffic might be bad, so he had hit the road early."
I really like to hit the road early. It lets me relax and be on my way and drive smart. As a side-benefit, it often opens up possibilities even when nothing goes wrong!
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These thoughts came together in response to today's Lenten Carbon Fast challenge: (courtesy of my bloggy friend Small Footprints):
"Keep your highway driving speed between 55 and 60 mph today. For most vehicles, 55 mph is the most fuel efficient highway speed and will save you up to 20-30% in fuel costs compared to driving at 75 mph. Automobile emissions are one of the leading causes of greenhouse gases. Don't idle your car at drive-up windows. If you have to stop for more than 10 seconds, you will save gas and reduce greenhouse emissions by turning off your engine."
This is a very practical challenge, and one that nearly all of us can improve on. I'd be happy to hear of yout techniques for driving smart!

1 comment:

Small Footprints said...

I love that story!! Isn't it funny that most of us will think about how to beat the traffic when, in reality, the solution is often to just leave early. Leaving early has some other benefits ... there's a bit of time to just relax before having to do whatever we're on our way to do.

Nice post ... thanks, Rewinn!