How To Drive Badly & Lower Your Gas Mileage In The Real World

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2011 Ford F-150 EcoBoost burnout

2011 Ford F-150 EcoBoost burnout

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With gas-mileage standards through 2016 now in place, the EPA and NHTSA are turning their sights toward rules for 2017 through 2025.

Proposals are floating around for CAFE standards of up to 62 mpg (which means the vehicles you might buy would average about 50 mpg in actual use).

Ah, the hell with that.

Let's talk about how people drive in the real world. Most of them only focus on saving gas once in a while.

Sometimes we think that, basically, they don't care--because gas is still far too cheap in the U.S.

2004 Toyota Prius accelerator pedal after being shortened as part of sudden-acceleration recall

2004 Toyota Prius accelerator pedal after being shortened as part of sudden-acceleration recall

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To assist you in the all-American pursuit of driving however you damn well please, consuming and emitting hydrocarbons left, right, and center, we can now offer a simple guide.

(After we pause to quote former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, that is, who said over Memorial Day, "I love that smell of the emissions.")

The list of steps comes from our colleague Steve Mirsky at Scientific American, who we happen to know drives a 2011 Hyundai Elantra sedan. For the record, that's a compact car rated at 29 mpg city, 40 mpg highway, giving a combined EPA rating of 33 mpg.

Mirsky's simple steps for driving in the most profligate way possible include:

  • Make sure all stops are followed by jackrabbit starts
  • Floor the accelerator, floor the brake pedal
  • Ignore the cruise control
  • Keep all tires underinflated
  • Idle as much as possible, but never turn off the engine

And there are more.

Texting while driving, by Flickr user ericathompson

Texting while driving, by Flickr user ericathompson

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We might add, make sure you spend much of your time behind the wheel using a wireless device, to maximize your distracted driving hours and keep your travel erratic and your reactions last-minute.

Though we absolutely draw the line at drunk driving.

In our opinion, Mirsky's piece is highly recommended reading as we head toward the gasoline-guzzling July Fourth weekend holiday.

For that celebration, note also Mirsky's recommendations to carry as much weight as possible in your car (you never know when you'll need those 50-pound bags of charcoal briquettes) and tie as much of it as possible to the roof (a la Mitt Romney's Irish Setter, Seamus).

Road trip, here we come!

[Scientific American]

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