The LA Times Opines that California’s Drivers Face a Bleak Future Unless We Change Course
The LA Times ran an editorial last week that painted a fairly grim picture of California’s driving future. The Times noted that the State has done a poor job investing in infrastructure to reduce congestion, prevent sprawl, and incentivize alternate forms of transportation. As a result, traffic is terrible, roads are in horrible shape, and the State has failed to meet its climate change goals. With little reason to believe the State’s transportation polices are going to significantly improve in the near-term, what can California drivers do to save time and protect the environment? They can start by Driving2Save. How? If more drivers followed our Tips for saving money through improved fuel economy, the incidental benefits would include improved safety, less congestion, and cleaner air for everyone.
The future for California drivers is even bleaker than the LA Times acknowledged. Why? To begin with, as the LA Times noted: “People are driving more, not less. The transportation sector is the state’s largest source of greenhouse gases, and emissions have risen despite the arrival of vehicles that burn less fuel per mile.” Of course, vehicles emit more than greenhouse gases. These other vehicle emissions (e.g., particulate matter) reduce air quality and pose serious health risks to those who drive on California’s increasingly congested roads. Exposure to pollution is not the only health risk drivers face on the roads. Traffic fatalities in California continue to climb – up more than 18% from 2014-2016. And prices at the pump continue to climb as well – with the gas tax in California adding $125 to the typical driver’s yearly gasoline costs. In sum, driving in California is increasingly costly, time-consuming, risky, and bad for the environment.
How do we start reversing these trends? It’s simple: Harness economic self-interest and get more Californians Driving2Save. If drivers would take simple steps to save money on gas, they would also help alleviate congestion, improve safety, and reduce pollution.
Where can drivers get the information they need? We offer dozens of Smarter Driving Tips to help drivers save money, time, lives, and the planet. Here are three examples of steps drivers can take to achieve these mutually-reinforcing goals:
1. Maintain Proper Tire pressure. This will improve your MPG, save you money on gas, and reduce your emissions. It will also improve your vehicle safety.
2. Set Your Adaptive Cruise Control at a Lower Speed. Using adaptive cruise control will improve your fuel economy, especially if you set it at a lower speed. (Remember: Every 5 MPH above 55 MPH reduces fuel economy by roughly 10%). This will save you money on gas and reduce your emissions. And adaptive cruise control improves your safety by maintaining a safe distance behind the vehicle in front of you given your speed.
3. Carpool Within Your Social Network. Just a modest amount of carpooling (e.g., to kids’ activities) can produce enormous cost-savings on gas and vehicle operations and maintenance. It also saves you time, reduces congestion, and reduces emissions.
Although the LA Times was justifiably pessimistic about the State’s ability to make needed changes to transportation investments and policies, we remain optimistic that California drivers can deliver a brighter future through easily implemented changes to their driving behavior. Simply by taking steps to save money on gas, California drivers can save time, lives, and the planet.
So if you are already doing this, thanks for Driving2Save and please encourage others to do so! If you haven’t started Driving2Save, please join us. For modest effort, you will realize substantial benefits.