"Slow down, you move too fast ..." Many are singing this Simon and Garfunkel tune as they cope with high gas prices by changing their driving habits.
Curious about the effect of fuel costs on our readers, we asked them in our newsletters what they were doing differently to lessen the blow of soaring prices.
Responses varied but brought plenty of useful tips, from
combining trips to carpooling, trading a vehicle or telecommuting. However, dramatic lifestyle changes are not an option for all. Saddled with long highway commutes and hard-to-unload SUVs, some decided to see what they could do to improve their gas mileage.
By far, readers have found that driving slower is the easiest and most effective way to instantly increase fuel economy. Using a steady speed and avoiding hasty acceleration are other popular strategies.
Driving less like Speedy Gonzales has other benefits too, one reader asserts, like a reduction in stress and speeding tickets. Read on for more.
Tips from readers
I drive a Chevy Suburban, so the high cost of gas hits hard. I have always gotten about 19 mpg. I commute 120 miles round trip two days per week for a total of 240 miles. The other three I am able to work from home. Most of my driving is rural interstate highway where I can set it on cruise control and go. In the last month I have dropped my speed by 5 mph (from 71 to 66) and that has actually raised my mpg to 21. That 3 mpg difference means a $4.92 difference at the pump based on the current price of $4.09 per gallon. That may not seem like much, but when it comes to putting 25 gallons of gas in the tank every week at $4.09 per gallon, every little bit helps.
-- Jennifer R.
I drive slower and get 2 to 3 miles per gallon better gas mileage. That doesn't sound like much, but when you figure about 16 gallons per fill-up, that adds up to 32 to 48 more miles out of each tank of gas! An extra one-way trip to work!
My co-worker drives a Prius in the slow lane at 55 mph. He gets 55 mpg, versus the rated 45 highway for that car.
A steady speed and sticking as close to 55 as possible saves a ton of gas. If everyone drove 55 to 60 miles per hour, we'd save enough gas to make prices drop dramatically.
-- Ruth D.J.
One gas-saving idea I see a little more of on the freeway -- but not enough -- slow down! People complain about gas prices and still zip along at 80 or higher where the speed limit is 65. I've cut back to 60, using the slow right lane. I save gas, find it more relaxing and don't worry about a speeding ticket -- a nice combination.
-- Keith C.
I drive a Subaru Legacy 4 cylinder which already gets 30 mpg on the highway. It is an automatic, but I shift into neutral on down hills to save gas. Also drive 10 mph below the posted speed limit. We should have brought back the 55 mph limit on interstates long ago.
I've been doing the following to deal with the ridiculous gas prices:
1. I drive the speed limit, without fail, and with the windows down when I can stand it. (Interesting that I have been tailgated only once.)
2. I combine trips and don't make special trips for anything. For example, I am now scheduling off-site meetings only in the early morning and late afternoon so I can include it in my commute.
3. I gas up only in the early a.m. It really does make a difference.
-- Michele R.