Speed.

So lately I have been making a conscious effort to stick to the posted speed limit. I usually attempt this while I’m driving. There are a couple of reasons for this effort, the first and foremost reason being that I am very concerned about the rising cost of fuel and I am doing everything I can to keep my commuting costs under control. Ironically, the Jeep performs better in the area of fuel efficiency when I’m on back roads instead of driving the freeways. This is backwards from what I have always been taught, but I guess that’s just the way this Jeep works. I’m fine with that; the scenery on the back roads is much better than the interstates anyways. It’s only five minutes or so extra to take the scenic route to work.

One of the features of my Jeep that I enjoy is the “eco” notification. A little display on the odometer tells me “ECO ON” when I’m driving in an economically fashion and just “ECO” when I’m not. There are no recommendations as to how to improve my driving skills to be more economically friendly, because quite frankly, I don’t believe a Jeep Wrangler is the place for a touch screen or anything that fancy but I have noticed that the I am not driving economically whenever I am driving over 71 MPH, even if I’m driving downhill.

In New York State the statewide speed limit is 55 unless otherwise posted. On the interstates and a few other freeways, the speed limit is posted at 65. Traffic rarely moves at that speed, 75 is commonplace and I am seeing more and more drivers doing 80 or more these days. Everyone is in a hurry. During my little experiment I have been driving at 66 MPH (because I’m a rebel) in the 65 zones. I try to stay a close to 55 as I can when that’s the posted speed limit, but occasionally I creep up to around 58 or so because I’m just bored.

I have increased my fuel efficiency from 18.5 MPG to 20.7 MPG using this approach. I think that’s pretty impressive. That’s around 30 extra miles on a tank of gas. That’s around $300 a year in fuel savings for me. I think the five extra minutes it takes to get to work is worth it.

I am a little surprised by the number of other folks on the Thruway that are driving around the same speed as me instead of whizzing by in the left lane without a care in the world but a thumb on the smartphone sending a text message. I don’t think distracted driving is a good idea under any circumstance and I don’t care what the distraction is: unruly kids, bossy GPS systems, phone calls, text messages, makeup application, shaving, eating, it all doesn’t matter, you should be driving and not doing other things. It just makes sense.

And it makes even more sense if you do it at a reasonable speed.

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