A new approach to driving

9 07 2008

Within the last week, National Public Radio did a retrospective on the Ford Model-T, remarking that the assembly-line car domesticated driving and changed the landscape of America, in addition to contributing to the very fuel situation in which we now find ourselves. This highlights a feeling that has grown in me over the past month, as I react to the way people are not changing their habits.

I want to offer a public service announcement, if you will, about our nation’s driving habits. It is true that our choice of vehicles–their overall size, fuel economy, and emissions–and our driving patterns–making fewer trips–have changed in recent times, mostly due to rising gas prices. This is to be cheered. But there are still some who insist on driving large, military-style vehicles when they truly don’t need them; some who still deny that their actions affect others. I want to say, for anyone feels the same, that you do not really need to waste that much gas. You can change. You do not need to continue taking your 13 mpg vehicle down the street to mail a letter. You do not need to continue driving it separately when you could carpool. You can trade it in; you can get a four-while drive vehicle to replace it, if you truly need that feature, but you might not even need that feature, either. I do not deny that some need to haul things and drive in more rugged places. I do, however, call to account those who are now affecting us all out of a style preference.

It is time to recognize that every time we use more gas than necessary simply out of laziness, we are hurting the entire world supply of fuel. That includes, eventually, our own. The prices will continue to rise. Gas will become prohibitively expensive for all but the most wealthy, and that includes those who now say it doesn’t matter to them because they have enough wealth to absorb the increase.

The bottom line is, unless you are conducting tank maneuvers or bushwacking through the Amazon, you can change your fuel intake. You can recognize that the amount you use today is only contributing to the price hikes. Until all of our vehicles use alternative fuel sources, we must work together toward stretching the remaining supply. It is so easy to become selfish in trying times. What we need now is intelligence and compassion. You can change your habits, and it won’t change your life as much as you think.

I just thought I would say it, once and for all. What do you think?

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5 responses

9 07 2008
David

I wholeheartedly agree with you. Something not mentioned that I have noticed lately as well is how drivers continue to let their vehicles idle for what seems like forever while they stand around and talk, wait for a passenger to return, carry on a cell phone conversation, or simply dig around for something on the back seat. This type of behavior is appalling to me. Surely these folks do not have that much wealth that they can afford to waste fuel (as you said, impacting everyone) while their vehicle idles. What can be done to change this type of behavior in American drivers?

9 07 2008
David

On another, yet related note, recently Frostburg State University Dept. of Geography tried to establish a ride-share program for both students and faculty. Using GIS, locations for every student & faculty member were plotted on a map along with distance radii from the campus. Despite every person on campus being given this great opportunity to cut fuel consumption and costs, fewer than 20 people signed up from a populous of some 5,000. The program never got started. Again, what does it take to change the way we use this scarce resource?

10 07 2008
driving courses

I read a report the other day (from the RAC) about driving in the UK and how one in 10 drivers in the UK never walk anywhere – only drive.
Given that the infrastructure here in the UK was mainly developed pre car, whereas the USA is mainly post car, I think you’re absolutely right that people can change their driving habits; it won’t just help the planet, it’ll improve their health as well..,

11 07 2008
Mister Moone

All good thoughts,

FYI – India is on the threshold of releasing the “Nano,” which gets 50 mpg – a small family car…But I suspect we will see in this country an eventual relpacement of Gasoline vehicles for the common man/woman – while gas will still be used in combination with bio fuels by gov and industry…

13 07 2008
Kathryn B.

Preach it, sister. Good to hear someone just say it as it is, instead of beating around the bush.

On the other hand, though, I’m starting to think that soaring energy/fuel costs are the only thing that will really make a dent in our inefficient habits and lifestyles. It will set us on the path to sustainability (finally), but we’ll definitely feel the squeeze along the way.

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