Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Sammy Hagar was wrong

My mind is boggled at the moment (as it is most moments), so bear with me as I explain an experiment that I've just concluded:

I commute by dented green pick-up truck about 32 miles round-trip every day, mostly on I-40 (forget about the bus/bike ride for the sake of this experiment; it has no bearing) Last month, at my normal cruising speed of 65 mph during my daily trip, I calculated my fuel consumption at 23.9 miles per gallon over the course of about 18 gallons. The speed limit all the way to work is 55 and my 65 generally put me right with the flow of traffic. Plenty of people were going slower, plenty were going faster.

For the next tank of gas, I decided to slow it down to under 60 mph and eventually settled on keeping it right at 55. I didn't leave for work any earlier and still got to work at the same time as before, despite the slow-down. My result? 27.35 mpg.

According to various sources, none of which I will bother to provide you with, the average driver in the US drives 12,000 miles in a year. If I'm average, that means my new driving habits will save 63.35 gallons per year or $192.58 at the national average of $3.04 for a gallon of gas. I'm happy to have just found $192.58 of absolutely free money, but that number doesn't impress me as much as I had hoped when I began this experiment. The mind boggling came when I applied the numbers on a nationwide scale.

The lowest number I could find for total registered vehicles in the US, and the only number that wasn't greater than the US population (which makes me think that it represents vehicles in actual use rather than show cars and junk cars) is 62,000,000. Sounds reasonable, if not low.

So here's the kicker: If 62 million cars suddenly realized the exact same fuel savings as I did by making minor changes to their driving habits (note this doesn't include driving any less), we as a nation would save a total of 3.9 billion gallons of gasoline annually. That's the equivalent of 10 straight days with no passenger vehicles on the road at all. That would be 10 days with no automobile pollution anywhere in the country. It's also $11.9 billion.

But that's abstract. So what will I do with my own $192.58?

I could choose to convert it back into miles and drive all the way to the ghost town of Cochise, Arizona, former residence of Old West personality and reputed prostitute Big Nose Kate. Or, I could cash out and get me a new wig. $192.58 gets me either the Dakota or the Vegas. Which do you prefer?

(See what I did there? I totally took an important idea and one that I'm very passionate about and trivialized it. Seriously- slow down and save gas.)


Allie said...

This is awesome! I'm going to link to it tomorrow.

Aaron said...

Dude, what isn't Sammy Hagar wrong about? I mean, really. Thank God Diamond Dave is back where he belongs.

sid said...

A wig? Damn that Britney! She's managed to make wigs kewl. Before you know it Mickey will be wearing mini skirts and flashing his crotch for the world to see.

Julie said...

I can't believe you have to ask. Only the Vegas can convey your sassiness.

Courtney said...

Hmm. I shall try this experiment in ye olde Honda and see what happens.

I think you'd look quite good in either wig.

Meaghan said...

I'm sure this is a career path of some sort. I think it should be yours. Now go out and convince the masses!

em said...

Geez! What a tough call, but I say go for the Vegas!

This is a good experiment. I hate to drive, so I do it as little as possible. I have to apologize because when I do drive, I tend to have a led foot. I will try not to anymore, at least when driving locally. When I drive from here to Michigan, the goal is to get out of Ohio as fast as humanly possible.

The Dutchess of Kickball said...

Wow, I really wish I knew this before I stopped commuting 45 miles one way every day. I could be rich by now!

Anonymous said...

i am sorry i didnt share this information with you earlier mick. Eisenhower did this experiment back in the day and this is where the national 55 speed limit came from. Just stick with experiminting with new soups.


Mickey said...

allie- Thanks for the link!

aaron- Sammy purportedly makes some wicked tequila.

sid- I already have a nasty habit of flashing my crotch from under my mini-skirt. It's a desperate plea for attention. SOMEBODY LOVE ME!!

julie- Yeah, that's what I was leaning toward.

courtney- You should. We'll see if we can squeeze even better mileage out of that car.

meaghan- It all starts right here with you folks.

em- Does Ohio smell bad or something? Worse than Michigan?

dutchess- It's never too late to start anew.

hightower- Dude, I know that. And it worked back then. Unfortunately, we repealed the federal speed limit and we need to rediscover the reasons for it. And slow down. By the way, glad to see my blog has inspired you to do a little homework.

em said...

ohio is the most boring state to drive through, ever. except for maybe nebraska.

Chris said...

The Vegas, no contest.

As to your advocacy for bringing back the federal speed limit law: I assume you have driven on the interstate in Atlanta, where the posted speed limit is indeed 55.

We see how much good that does. The average pace can range anywhere from 5 mph to 85 mph, depending on the mood of the driving gods that day.

Mickey said...

em- Nebraska is suprisingly interesting and varied. You just have to stay away from the interstate. See sidebar, picture #2.

chris- In places like 285, all you can really do is go with the flow. And I suspect if the speed limit were higher the traffic would adjust accordingly, to the detriment of both efficiency and safety. I went to Montana when they had no speed limit at all and also drove accordingly, and I'm otherwise intelligent.

Noelle said...

That's pretty brills. I'm disturbed because I've only had my car for 14 months, and it already has 21000 miles on it, and that for two of those months I didn't drive it because I was broken. I did drive to Minneapolis and back, though.

But millions will be late!

Mickey said...

noelle- Brills? I must not be hip or I'd know what that means.

And I really don't think it slows you down that much. Maybe a minute or two over my 16-mile commute.

Anonymous said...

dude FFS you missed the point of the song!! He had a lamborghini that normally drives at over 100mph. In you POS green pickup I'm sure 55mph is quite logical for better gas milleage but someone with Hagars cash and high end vehicles 55 barely gets you out of 2nd gear!! Lighten up its just a song ya gosh darn treehuggin liberal!!