Road trips and air tips: breathe easy on the open road

It’s the heart of summer and time to take a vacation. If you’re vacationing somewhere in the Midwest, you’re probably considering a family road trip. Piling into the car and cranking up the tunes can be great for your family, but bad driving can hurt your fuel economy which also hurts our air quality.

Here are some good driving habits to improve both fuel economy and air quality:

  • Drive friendly. Speeding lowers your gas mileage 5 percent in the city and 33 percent on the highway. Rapid acceleration and sudden braking also use more fuel. Driving the speed limit and anticipating stops will help you reduce the amount of money leaving your wallet and the pollutants coming from your vehicle.
  • Go cruising. On any extended trip, cruise control is your best friend. It gives your leg a rest from pressing on the pedal and keeps you from getting a speeding ticket. It can also save you money at the pump by improving your miles per gallon.
  • Dump the junk. The more weight your car has, the more gasoline is needed to move it. Before going on your trip, be sure to remove everything you won’t need. Every extra 100 pounds of stuff in your car reduces your gas mileage by up to 2 percent.
  • Keep baggage off the roof. Once you’re certain you’ve only packed the necessities, make sure it all fits inside the car. Putting luggage in a rooftop cargo rack can greatly reduce your fuel economy — by as much as 25 percent on the interstate.
  • Always service your vehicle.When your car isn’t operating at its best it costs you money. Filters, fluids and tire pressure are all quick maintenance checks that you can do on your own. If they aren’t in top shape, it could cost you around 4 percentof your total gas mileage each year.

Road trips provide a fun atmosphere for family bonding. With a little help from travelers, our air doesn’t have to suffer the consequences of bad driving habits. And when you fill up before you head out, don’t forget to stop at the click when filling up your gas tank!

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