A random look at the life and times of Jim Rising recovering radio addict and newspaper columnist.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Gas Pains

With gas destined to be $4 a gallon by Memorial Day it makes me crazy to waste it. There are several things that I think are a total waste of gas. Stop signs on deserted country roads late at night. If you can see in every direction and there are no headlights or taillights why do you have to come to a complete stop? It would save on brakes, fuel and time if you could just slow down and go through. Except if local law enforcement is watching, and then you get a ticket. That gets a little expensive. Another big gas waster? Traffic lights. For years the intersection where I turn off the Cross Valley expressway onto Hillside road had no traffic light. I never saw more than two cars waiting to turn and never saw an accident. Now with the light there I often have to wait 5 minutes or more to make the same turn. Five minutes in the life of this guy is not a lot. But let’s do some math. As near as I can figure 5 minutes of idling equals 7.5 cents worth of gas. Round it up to a dime to make it easy. 20 cars each wait five minutes in one traffic light cycle. That’s $2.00 wasted. If this happens 12 times an hour that’s $24. Suppose this happens 12 hours a day. That’s $288. And this is ONE stoplight on ONE highway and I am figuring only ONE direction. Figure out how much this would be on a four way intersection. Multiply by the 62 million cars on the road. Then tell me how sure you are that the traffic lights aren’t all made in Saudi Arabia. How much could we save if we turned half of the lights in the country on to flashing red? It staggers the imagination. Another way we all throw gas away is drive up service. Idling while waiting to order a double cheeseburger or to cash a check is just plain wasteful. If there are more than three or four cars in a line GET OUT AND WALK! Honest it won’t hurt you and it might even save some time. I haven’t even mentioned the amount of pollution that could be reduced by reducing idling time or just plain shutting off the engine if you are going to be stopped for more than a minute. The EPA says if over a year, two million drivers—which is a small percentage of US drivers—stopped idling their cars unnecessarily for two minutes just once a week, it would reduce these emissions by over 1,500 TONS. The old saying is “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” The new one could be “Idling cars are OPEC’s joy.” But then again I could be wrong.

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