As gasoline approaches $4 per gallon for regular … and is beyond that at the marina, I find myself more and more thankful for the “Average MPG” gauge in my car.
My car averages 25 or so miles per gallon around town, and does 29-30 on the highway … depending on how much of a hurry I’m in to get where I’m going. I know that’s not nearly the 48-50 MPG my friend David gets with his glorified golf cart Prius, but it’s respectable for a V6. Still, as I said, it depends on how I drive.
And that’s why I love the Average MPG display. I’ve found that if I can not jump away from stoplights and just drive like a sane person … I average 1-2 miles per gallon more, on average, for every tank of gas. At 4 bucks a gallon, that’s a pretty significant savings. In fact, now the mis-timing of the lights on Atlantic Boulevard are more than just an annoyance. I can see what it’s costing me as I have to stop and start for every damn light on the road (as was the case this morning) even when I’m driving like a sane person. Hopefully they’ll get that rectified soon. It’s not always that way.
I have found, too, that on the freeway, the sweet spot is about 60-65 miles per hour. That’s too slow for most people on I-95, but I start to see an erosion of my fuel economy as I push up around 70. Over that, and I’m definitely losing money. At that point, it all depends on where I need to be and how much time I want to waste on the road. My time is valuable, too.
So what brought this to mind today? Driving in this morning in the SUV/Pickup canyons that is Atlantic Boulevard at rush hour, there was this moron in a full-size pickup … like a Toyota Tundra or Nissan Whatever their big truck is called or an F150 super duty king cab stretch, 4X4 wax wagon … and he was driving it like it was a go-cart.
But this guy was jackrabbiting away from the lights, blasting in an out of lanes, finding the one with a tiny bit of room and accelerating to be right on the bumper of the car ahead of him, I think on the phone all the while. Look, dude, I’m sorry that you’re late to work, but trying to intimidate the rest of us with your monster truck says way more about you than it does about any of the rest of us. Those are the guys I’m certainly very happy to have in front of me rather than on my bumper. I don’t have enough hair to pull.
And the sad thing is, I see it all the time. It wasn’t an isolated incident. So often it’s a damn big truck, but there are plenty of idiots in everything from go-loud rice burners to big American sedans and everything in between that just haven’t quite figured out that if you’ll not go as fast as you can go all the time you’ll spend less money on gas and we’ll all get where we’re going a little safer … and on time.
I hope when monster truck guy’s monster truck glugs down 40 or so gallons of gas at $3.80/gallon, he feels it. I know I feel it when it’s $50.00 to fill up my little Toyota.
But even worse is getting fuel at the marina dock. The last I bought was $4.00/gallon, and I know next time it’s going to be 30 or 40 cents more. The boat holds 80 gallons, and I don’t know if she’ll ever see a full tank again. When I see the floating condos and massive cruisers and displacement hulls pushing tons of water as they plow up and down the intercoastal waterway and St. Johns River … my first thought is always “damn, that’s a big wake … I’d better slow down”. My second thought is “I’m glad I don’t have their fuel bill”.
What’s the answer? If I knew, I’d be an advisor to somebody running for President. Some think it’s all conservation, but apparently $4.00 gas isn’t enough to get the monster truck guys to slow down. Some say it’s windfall profits taxes on oil companies. But those don’t have a great history of getting people to drive less or cutting the price of gasoline. Some say “Drill in ANWAR”, which is becoming a political third rail. I’d hope technology has come far enough to be able to do that and explore offshore more safely, but I don’t know that for sure. What I am pretty sure of is that, as oil continues to go through the roof, we’re probably going to have to do all those things, as well as getting together some kind of “Manhattan Project” for what ever comes next … because the cheap oil train is pretty well grinding to a halt, and we’ve got nothing up our collective sleeves as a planet to make it any better.
Non Sequitur Alert!! Oh, and if you know about the green dust cap in the picture, you know. It’s completely unrelated to oil.
Yeah … you know, don’t you.