All this hubbub over how much gas cars burn and the government won’t even synchronize traffic lights.
How much gas does that waste?
An interesting study was done by a Stanford University researcher a few years back. Its author – Victor Miller – estimated that the average car needlessly stops – and then goes – about 15 times every day as a result of such things as unsynchronized traffic lights.
When multiplied by the approximate number of cars driven each day in urban/suburban environments – which is about 60 million cars – the study determined that the fuel wastage of avoidable decelerating, idling and re-accelerating accounts for about 1.2 billion gallons of wasted fuel annually.
That is an ocean of gas – and a lot more gas than “saved” by elaborate, expensive and annoying technology such as the engine stop/start systems being grafted to almost all new cars as a desperation measure to meet the government’s fuel economy fatwas.
Much more fuel could be saved simply by keeping the cars moving. And – as a bonus – we’d also save time, an invaluable (and never renewable) resource.
But it never gets done. The lights remain generally unsynchronized. Cars lurch forward, briefly. Then stop – and wait. It is like a Soviet-era bread line queue. Rinse, repeat – times 60 million, every day.
Not only is gas (and time) wasted, but also brake pads and tires – and tires are made of oil (mostly). I wasn’t able to find a study which quantified how much needless wear and tear on tires can be laid at the feet of avoidable stop-and-go driving, but a sound guess is probably “a lot,” since most of the wear and tear occurs from the initial friction of getting going – and the friction of stopping.
That adds up, too.
If you want to save fuel, the best thing you can do is keep moving – especially once already moving. It takes relatively little energy to maintain momentum; the energy bleed comes from getting three or four thousand pounds moving. And every time you apply the brakes to slow those three or four thousand pounds down, all that energy goes up in smoke, expressed as heat. If you want to feel your money being literally burned up, touch your brake discs after 10 minutes of stop-and-go-driving.
Much of it avoidable.
But no one in the government seems to care. They certainly aren’t acting – doing anything about it.
Why? You’d think – if fuel economy really was such a Big Priority, as they say it is – the EPA would be sending hither proverbial swarms of officers to make sure that every traffic light in the country was properly synced with the others in its vicinity.
But that is too much effort, apparently. Even though it would hardly cost the government anything.
Probably because it doesn’t cost us anything. Would actually reduce costs for us. Unlike for instance the electric cars being force-fed to us. Which cost both money and time, in the form of wasted time while waiting for the things to recover a charge so that we can resume driving.
Electric cars being the ultimate form of stop and go driving.
The government’s latest “fuel saving” stratagem is to make high-octane premium gas mandatory, so that the car industry can make high-compression engines standard equipment. High-compression engines are more “efficient.” But premium unleaded is also more expensive – about 40 cents more per gallon than regular.
Behold the genius of government.
We can debate all night long about whether the government has any legitimate business telling the car companies – that is to say, telling us – that we have to buy “safe” cars (“safe” defined by the government as complying with a multitude of barrier-impact tests) but there is no debating that to make them “safe” means making them heavy and heavy cars burn more gas than lighter cars.
The most “efficient” 2018 model family sedans – with small four cylinder engines – approach 40 MPG on the highway. They would be capable of exceeding 50 MPG – if it weren’t for the fact that they are so fat. And they are fat because of all the steel which has been added to make them “safe” as the government defines that.
Perhaps the government isn’t so smart, after all.
If it were – and if it really did care about efficiency as opposed to controlling us – the lights would be synchronized before the end of next week. The fact that they aren’t – and likely never will be – tells us a lot about the government’s true priorities.
. . .
Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!
If you like what you’ve found here, please consider supporting EPautos.
We depend on you to keep the wheels turning!
Our donate button is here.
If you prefer not to use PayPal, our mailing address is:
721 Hummingbird Lane SE
Copper Hill, VA 24079
PS: EPautos magnets are free to those who send in $20 or more. My latest eBook is also available for your favorite price – free! Click here. If you find it useful, consider contributing a couple of bucks!