Monday, January 9, 2012
The Commute: Every day I drive about 33 miles to work and 33 back home. Most of the drive is on a highway with a speed limit of 70. My comfort zone is usually about 3-5 mph over the speed limit.
It takes about 45 minutes each way, usually, depending on traffic. I don't really mind commuting--I listen to music and wake up before work and get to relax on my drive home. I used to have something that played my ipod in my car and I would listen to my favorite podcast.
However, I do not love buying gas every four days. That's how many trips I can usually make to and from work: four days of commuting plus my normal in-town driving. Gas is expensive and I hate seeing all my money sucked into travel.
I began thinking about ways to save gas. I've always heard that as soon as you break 65mph your gas efficiency tanks. It was part of math questions in high school, it was posted around one building at my alma mater. This fact was always part of my awareness.
But somehow I never really thought of making use of this fact until recently.
The Experiment: Since just before Christmas, I have been driving 65mph to and from work. On a highway where many people drive 75+, this means I am the slow car puttering along in the right lane. It didn't seem like it was making much of a difference at first, but I wanted to use a full tank of gas and a full week to try it out.
The Result: Holy cow! Last week was the first uninterrupted week where I could study the effect. (Before my trials had always been interrupted by Christmas or trips to the airport, etc.) But man, did it make a difference. I was able to drive the whole week to and from work, do my normal travel around town AND have gas left for the weekend just on one tank of gas! Granted, soon Pat will be back and I'll be driving around town a little bit more, but the experiment got me at least 70 miles more per tank of gas than before. Again--Holy cow!
Side Effects: Of course, being the slow car has had its side effects. I get passed a lot. I'm sure I get cussed at, too, and I see people look over as they pass me, wondering who would drive 10 mph slower than anyone else on the road.
It did not, though, add a significant amount of time to my commute. I watch my GPS--it only adds 1-2 minutes to my expected arrival time. I usually budget that much in for unexpected traffic anyway, so I'm not leaving any earlier than I did when I was driving over the speed limit.
But I also noticed I'm less stressed during the commute. I moved my chair back. I'm no longer cussing at the slow cars myself because I am the slow car. I thought my drives were relaxing before, but they're even better now that I'm not worrying about driving too slow or passing everyone in my way.
Photo from here.