AAA of Northern California predicts more than 5.3 million people in the Golden State plan to travel 50 miles or more form home this Thanksgiving holiday. That’s 4.1 percent more than last year.
Of the travelers, more than 4.5 million plan to reach their destination by automobile, also up 4.1 percent over 2010 turkey day holiday road warriors.
If you plan to be among the driving masses, here are some tips from Caltrans, the CHP and AAA on saving gas, money and lives:
- Drive as close to the speed limit as possible. Each 5 mph driven over 60 mph means an extra 24 cents per gallon of gas is being siphoned out of your gas tank. Using cruise control to maintain a steady speed, as well as using overdrive gears, helps take the pressure off your foot and save gas.
- Reduce your speed when driving in the early morning hours wherever there may be black ice, particularly near bridges, underpasses and low or shaded areas. Also, slow down when you see Caltrans workers, law enforcement and tow truck drivers are working on the side of the road.
- Keep your cool in traffic. Aggressive driving techniques such as speeding, swerving and sudden acceleration and braking, lowers gas mileage by 33 percent on highways and 5 percent on city streets. Revving engines while stopped is wasteful, as well.
- Ease off the air conditioner, which can be a drain on gas, in stop and go traffic. Roll down your windows instead. However, when the pace is picked up above 55 mph, open windows make our vehicle less aerodynamic, increases air resistance and decreases fuel efficiency. On long road trips, using air conditioning can improve gas mileage by up to 20 percent.
- Don’t idle. Newer vehicles need only about one minute to “warm up.” Anything beyond that is a waste of gas. Sitting idle contributes to ground-level ozone and near-surface air pollution, which aggravates asthma and hindered breathing in otherwise healthy people, especially children and the elderly.
- Stay current on auto repairs, including tune ups, oil changes and tire inflation. Keeping a vehicle in tune can improve its efficiency by an average of 4 percent, while serious problems that go unchecked, such as a faulty oxygen sensor, can reduce your gas mileage by up to 40 percent. Meanwhile, oil changes every three months or 3,000 miles and properly inflated tires bump fuel efficiency. And for safety’s sake, make sure your brakes and windshield wiper blades are in good condition, as well as inspect your head and tail lights to ensure you have maximum visibility on the highway.
- Travel light. Two percent more gas is burned for every extra 100 pounds of baggage, no matter how big your ride is.
- Make the grade. Following the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations found in the owner’s manual for motor oil can boost your mileage by up to two percent, while using the proper grade of gas can save hundreds of dollars annually.
- Cap it tightly. A properly capped gas tank will prevent gas from evaporating from your vehicle’s gas tank. Fuel evaporation is bad for your car, your wallet and your lungs. If your gas cap fits loose or its thread is stripped, buy a new one.
- Stay informed about road conditions by watching out for electronic message boards and other road signs with information on changing road conditions, lane closures or detours. Perhaps, have a passenger check roadside traffic cameras on their mobile device at http://video.dot.ca.gov/. Travelers also can call (800) GAS-ROAD for current road conditions on highways statewide.
- Caltrans has its crews, snow plows and sand trucks ready to respond to storms that may hit the state’s highway system this weekend. No regularly scheduled road work will take place through 8 p.m. Monday, Nov. 28.
- To report road hazards, call 911.
- Carpool, take mass transit, bike, or walk to your destination if possible. Alternative transportation saves money, improves your personal health and helps the planet by keeping greenhouse gases in check.