‘Tis the Season for Smarter Driving

author: brionnamuyco 9:00 am EST December 19, 2013
By USDR    


As many Americans get ready for holiday travel, one of the biggest decisions beyond the destination is deciding whether to travel by plane or by car.  Factors like fuel or flight prices, dependability of the family vehicle, room for gifts and luggage as well as distance inevitably come into play.


Wayne Gerdes, a multiple World Record holder for the most fuel-efficient driving, drove a Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited earlier this month from Chicago, IL to Austin, TX, more than 1,100 miles, on just one tank of Shell Diesel. Gerdes, who made the drive to raise awareness for the importance of fuel-efficient driving this holiday season and year-round, travelled for just under 20 hours and was able to achieve an average fuel economy of 44.4 mpg. He arrived at his destination in Austin with ½ gallon of diesel fuel remaining in his tank.


Families often do more driving around the holidays to visit loved ones, attend parties and go on trips. The festive season also means putting out a little extra cash for food and gifts. But, as Gerdes showed with his fuel-efficient drive, there are ways to maximize your fuel purchases that will provide some relief for your wallet this time of year.


"Smart driving is especially important during the holidays when we are on the road so much," said Gerdes. "Even if you don't analyze weather patterns, road conditions and monitor traffic like I did for this drive, there are still easy steps you can take to improve mileage. It is a matter of planning ahead and being aware of what might negatively affect your fuel economy."


Though average new car fuel economy has steadily risen since 20081, fuel costs continue to be a significant factor in household budgets2. Learning to maximize your fuel purchases is a gift you can give yourself this holiday season that will continue to give back, and help keep your budget in check, year-round.


One very important factor in achieving better mileage is ensuring driving habits are fuel efficient. Here are some smarter driving tips from Shell that drivers can incorporate into their everyday driving to help make their fuel purchases go further:


    1. Use air conditioning sparingly4 - Air conditioning puts added strain on the engine and uses fuel to operate, so limit use to particularly hot days. On high temperature days consider using the fan instead.

    1. Use overdrive gears3 - When you use overdrive, your car's engine speed goes down. This uses less gas and reduces engine wear.

    1. Conserve momentum and keep your distance4 - Think ahead when you're driving. For example, slow down early to let traffic lights change, rather than stopping completely, or speed up a little before you reach the foot of a hill. Leave a sensible distance between yourself and the car ahead to give you ample time to brake evenly.

    1. Use cruise control3 - Maintaining a constant speed on major roads and in free flowing traffic can improve gasoline mileage.

  1. Drive smoothly4 - Avoid heavy acceleration or braking. Speeding, rapid acceleration and braking can lower your gasoline mileage by 5 percent at lower speeds around town and by 33 percent at highway speeds.

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