If youre driving for less
than five minutes, dont! Short trips hurt the oils lubricating capabilities
and decrease the life of the engine. Unburned gasoline gets in the oil when the engine is
cold, then boils off once it gets hot.
Combine trips. Your cars
catalytic converter cools down after about 10-15 minutes, after which its start-up
emissions become significant again. To minimize this effect, park in a central location
and then run your errands to avoid unnecessary cold starts.
Dont idle for more than a
minute. It wastes fuel and increases emissions, even after accounting for restarting the
Take excess junk out of your car.
It increases fuel consumption and decreases performance.
Use the right octane fuel. Most
cars dont benefit from costly high octane ("premium") fuel. Check your
owners manual for your vehicles requirements.
Don drive aggressively.
Flooring the accelerator puts the car into enrichment mode, which drastically increases
fuel consumption and emissions (and accidents!).
Keep tires properly inflated.
Under-inflated tires can decrease fuel economy by 10-20 percent, and also compromise
Take public transit. Per
passenger, buses and trains are much more efficient than cars. Even if you cant use
transit, support it: it reduces congestion for those who must drive.
Car- or van-pool. It saves energy,
road space, vehicle wear and tear, parking fees, and even time (if your commute is on a
highway with high-occupancy-vehicle lanes).
Work on flextime or telecommute.
If each single-occupancy driver stayed off the roads one day a week, congestion would
decrease by 20 percent - even more during rush hour, since extra cars disproportionately
slow the flow as a highway nears its peak capacity. Working at home also leaves more time
for family, and can increase your productivity, mental well-being, and the amount of sleep
Bicycle or walk. Perfect for
getting to transit stops or for going short distances. Biking and walking use renewable
energy, promote mental and physical fitness, and create no emissions (at least 1 pound of
carbon dioxide is saved per mile over driving). Biking at 35 calories per mile is over 50
times more energy efficient than driving (about 2,000 calories per mile), and three times
more efficient than walking.
Plan your next move so you live
closer to public transit and to where you and your family shop, work, and play.
Share ownership of a vehicle. How
often do you really need the full capacity of your vehicle? Consider buying or sharing a
single clean and fuel-efficient vehicle for commuting, errands, and long trips with a
neighbor or friend. You could then rent or borrow a less efficient vehicle for moving or
hauling things. You would save hundreds of dollars a year in fuel alone (which accounts
for a mere twenty percent of the total cost of vehicle ownership), and simultaneously
reduce the impact of your driving.
Sell your car. The ultimate
negadriving technique! The financial benefits are considerable: the average vehicle in the
United States costs its owner $6,000 a year in interest payments, depreciation, insurance,
repairs, maintenance, and fuel. Thats enough to cover the payments on an extra
$70,000 of mortgage, enabling you to buy a better, more efficient, transit-friendly home.