Volatile prices at the gas pumps might remind motorists to follow some good advice from Benjamin Franklin: “Waste not, want not.”
Conservation is a key component of a national energy plan that has been overlooked by policymakers in Washington, D.C., for decades. Even suggesting Americans should curtail their driving has often been met with ridicule and disdain.
Even so, uncertainty in gas pricing could drive some Americans to stay off the highways. Analysts say high fuel prices might actually accomplish something that public awareness campaigns have failed to do: convince drivers to make fewer trips in their gas-powered cars.
By cutting back on the number of trips mainly by combining many short strips to one, Americans would be both conserving fuel and helping to keep the prices at the pump from skyrocketing.
So does common sense. With gas prices jumping from low to high and back again — last week AAA reported a 17-cent rise in average prices in Tennessee — it’s disheartening to see the number of cars pouring into our major cities each workday with just one occupant.
Using common sense can help Americans save a few dollars on their fuel costs. When it comes to saving money at the gas pumps, just driving the speed limit can help with fuel mileage.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says motorists can improve their gas mileage by at least 15% by driving 55 mph rather than 65 mph. Here are some other tips from the EPA to improve gas mileage:
• Use your car only when necessary. That means walking or taking public transportation whenever possible. Rising gas prices could spark a productive discussion on the need for more mass transit options, such as commuter rail service.
• Go easy on the brakes and gas pedal and avoid “jackrabbit” starts by accelerating gradually.
• Avoid long idles by turning off the engine if you anticipate a lengthy wait.
• Don’t carry unneeded items in the trunk. The extra weight decreases gas mileage.
• Keep tires properly inflated and aligned, and be sure to get regular engine tune-ups.
Thankfully, volatile prices at the gasoline pumps are also convincing Americans of the benefits of hybrids and all-electric vehicles. The sooner this nation can be weaned from its dependency on fossil fuels, the better.