16 August 2005

Saving on Gas: Use a little Sense.

Here's an article in the LATimes on what people are doing to stretch their gas money. It offers some solid tips and debunks some myths.

How about driving behind a big rig? That also can improve fuel economy.

"It's the same theory that Lance Armstrong exploits whenever he's riding in the Tour de France," Shames said. "He's taking advantage of the draft created by other riders to reduce the amount of effort he has to make."

However, experts don't recommend the technique for motorists because of the dangers of being in the trucker's blind spot.

I used to commute 70 miles a day in L.A. on a motorcycle whatever the weather, and I know a little about this. Drafting a truck, or "getting a tow", gets you out of the wind and it's warmer there, which is why I did it. You can hear your RPM increase when you hit the right place, which is a lot closer to the truck than is really comfortable, maybe ten feet, and you can maintain freeway speed with just a whiff of throttle. The air displaced by the truck's passage actually swirls in behind you and pushes you along. Some truckers don't like this and will do stuff to try and shake you. Take the hint. Most don't care, especially the ones who have helpers to wash you off the back of the rig if something goes awry. Your main wish is that the rig's brake lights work. Also, if there is some object on the roadway, you won't see it until you either run over it or the truck kicks it up in your face. I ran right over an entire car exhaust pipe and muffler once. A truck kicked it up and luckily it hit my front tire instead of my face. Thank God I was on a Triumph. It twitched once and went on. If I had been on a lesser-handling machine, they would have buried me with it as one lump. I absolutely recommend against this practice.

I think the best lines in the article are:

Even with the average price for a gallon of regular now at $2.71 and premium grades going for more than $3, most drivers aren't in a position to stop using their cars.

So they are responding in much the way they try to lose weight - with complex special diets, instead of by simply eating less and exercising more, Kloza said.

"It's like that scene in 'Goodfellas,' where one of the guys says, 'How come this food tastes so good?' 'Because it's stolen,'" Kloza quoted.

"When people save money on gasoline, it gives them an immediate sunny countenance. They think they pulled the wool on somebody."

I still keep a length of fuel hose in my handlebar. For emergencies only, you understand. It's an "Okie credit card".

Gas is still the cheapest thing you can buy for your car. Keep it all in perspective.

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