Your road trip plans are solidified. Your vehicle is tuned up, you and your children are buckled up and you’re ready to go. Not so fast. Here are 10 tips to keep in mind to ensure your road trip is as safe as possible… and most of them will help save you money as well.
1. Never exceed the legal speed limit. It is primarily set for your safety, however better gas efficiency also occurs when you stick to the limit. While each vehicle reaches its optimal fuel economy at a different speed (or range of speeds), gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph. As a rule of thumb, you can assume that each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.21 per gallon for gas.
2. Drive steadily. Slowing down or speeding up wastes fuel. Also avoid tailgating and aggressive driving (speeding, rapid acceleration and braking) both waste gas. It can also lower your gas mileage by 33 percent at highway speeds and by 5 percent around town. Sensible driving is also safer for you and others, so you may save more than gas money.
3. Use cruise control. Using cruise control on the highway helps you maintain a constant speed and, in most cases, will save gas.
4. Keep windows closed when traveling at highway speeds. Open windows cause air drag, reducing your mileage by 10%.
5. Think ahead when approaching hills. If you accelerate, do it before you reach the hill, not while you’re on it.
6. Avoid rough roads whenever possible, because dirt or gravel rob you of up to 30% of your gas mileage.
7. Use alternate roads when they are safer, shorter, and straighter. Compare traveling distance differences – remember that corners, curves and lane jumping requires extra gas. The shortest distance between two points is always a straight line.
8. Avoid Idling. Idling gets you 0 miles to the gallon.
9. Remove excess weight. On a road trip, bring only what is necessary. An extra 100 pounds in your vehicle could reduce your MPG by up to 2%.
10. Reconsider using a roof rack. A roof rack or carrier provides additional cargo space and may allow you to meet your needs with a smaller car. However, a loaded roof rack can decrease your fuel economy by 5 percent. Reduce aerodynamic drag and improve your fuel economy by placing items inside the trunk whenever possible.
I hope these tips give you pause for thought before your next big road trip. Have fun and travel safe.