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.)