Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Tank 144 - 30 January

Refueled this morning at the Fredericksburg Costco, with 10.437 gallons
after going 396.6 miles. This resulted in an average fuel economy of
38.16 mpg for the tank.

I am pleased with this number because twice on trips home on this tank,
I really flew, relatively speaking, at speeds approaching 75 miles per
hour. Of course, these speeds were as I safely trailed behind tractor
trailers to utilize their drafts to improve my fuel economy.

Gas cost $2.829 per gallon, which is apparently below the national
average. Fredericksburg, for some reason, has cheaper gas than average.
This makes me feel sorry for those areas that pay more than the national
average, but I'm honestly not going to go out of my way to pay more than
I need to just to make myself feel better about my area's cheap gas.

I still haven't gotten a distance home number, which would allow me to
estimate my average speed on these trips home I also track with some
degree of retentiveness. If/when I do that, I'll be able to expand my
coverage to include "trip home times," which is information that has
really come in handy and has reduced some of my stress levels associated
with driving home.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

I'm In the SLOW Lane, Going the Speed Limit or Otherwise Keeping Up With Traffic. WHERE SHOULD I GO?

This morning was odd. Not so much because there was unusually heavy
traffic, but because of how some people chose to handle it.

I drove in today as I normally do, hanging out in the slow lane,
watching ahead to see how fast those cars are going, and staying a
reasonable distance behind them so I wouldn't have any unnecessary
reason to slam on the brakes.

I-95 is three lanes wide for my entire commute. When I camp out in the
slow lane, that leaves two other lanes for traffic that wants to go
faster than me.

As it turned out, I pretty much was keeping pace with the middle lane,
as there were many other cars going my way this morning. However, there
were three drivers who obviously thought that my role as being in the
slow lane with 100 feet of open space between me and the car ahead of me
(not an unreasonable distance considering we were all going 60-65 mph)
meant I ought to have been accelerating to close the gap ahead of me.

Three times a car (I am not exaggerating) swooped in behind me, crawled
up right close to my rear bumper, flashed its headlights, and then
swooped away into the middle or fast lane again, just to get stuck again
in traffic that was pretty much going the same speed that I was.

I'm sorry, but I don't underatand how people can expect the SLOW LANE to
move any faster than the other two lanes in traffic.

People, please just pick a lane and stick with it. We'll all be safer
and you will find you will get there in a reasonable time with much less
stress.

Please try to keep your sanity as you're out there driving, folks!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Monitors in Headrests at 6:30 in the morning?

I have noticed three or four times over the past few weeks a strange
sight on my way to work in the morning.

There's a large SUV, like a Ford Expedition or Lincoln Navigator, that
has little TV monitors in the back of four of its headrests. I can
clearly see them all showing some sort of show as it goes past me in the
darkness. In addition, this vehicle has some sort of navigation system
attached to the windshield with a suction cup.

So I see this thing go past and wonder if in fact there are four other
people in the SUV who are watching a show at such the early hour. My
inclination is that this is a single driver who is showing off his fancy
expensive toys in his car.

If this is the case, and he's alone but trying to impress all these
strangers as he drives to work, I feel sorry for him. Not only is he
doing the exact opposite of impressing me, he is also making driving
conditions more hazardous for the rest of us by distracting us with the
various flashing colors and brightnesses of the TV monitors.

I also wonder how much these flashing lights affect his driving ability,
adding glare to the inside of his windows and affecting his ability to
clearly see outside his vehicle.

Also, I am certain that his engine is using a little bit more gas to
provide the power to these TV screens so that he can try to impress
these strangers. And in a Navigator or Expedition, you need to try to
conserve fuel as much as you can, and that's definitely not by driving
fast with 4 TVs on in headrests you can't even see!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Fog Lights? More like Laser Beams!

It's usually dark when I drive to work. I take the interstate, and lots
of my fellow commuters join me every morning. We are all going in the
same direction at the approximate same speed. The road is smooth and
the path is predictable. We all know where we are going.

Why, oh why, then, to so many people absolutely insist on having their
fog lights turned on as well as their headlights? Seeing those fog
lights in the rear and side view mirrors is quite annoying, as the fog
lights are aimed such that they are reflected directly into my eyes. I
can only assume this is the case for other drivers as well, as I have
experienced this not only in the Mighty Corolla but also in the minivan.

It's not foggy out, so there's no need to shine these obnoxious lights
into the cars ahead.

I have driven with the fog lights on, and with them off, and the fog
lights really don't impress me as enhancing my visibility of the road.
And when you're on the interstate, it's pretty clear where you are
going, so it's not like you need any assistance seeing where you're
going to go. There's plenty of cars ahead to show you where the road is
leading.

There really is no apparent reason to have your fog lights on while you
are driving in rush hour commuting traffic.

Fog lights are annoying in this way. I can only conclude that people
who drive with their fog lights on as well as their headlights are doing
this to purposefully piss off everyone else ahead of them.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Tank 143 - 22 January 2008

It was 26 degrees at the Fredericksburg Costco this morning, as I
refueled the Mighty Corolla with 11.333 gallons of gas. This tank took
me 429.7 miles, which means that even in the cold weather the car
managed a respectable 37.92 miles per gallon.

Last January at about this time, my fuel economy was less than 34 miles
per gallon, but there's no way of telling whether the cold weather had
anything to do with it, as the temperature reading is a relatively new
data item.

Fuel economy in 2008 has been consistent over the first three tanks.
This is a little surprising, as my driving habits have drifted towards
inconsistency and higher speeds at times. Gas is more expensive, but
there's not much of a choice on that, unless I change jobs to a closer
to home job.

But I don't worry about that, as I like my job and don't mind too much
the commute, particularly now that I have discovered books on CD to
listen to as I drive to and from work.

There's nothing really that I can do to change traffic, so might as well
go with it and enjoy the time I'm in it. Books on CD are much better
than the radio, in my opinion.

One thing I also track is the length of time it takes me to get home
each day. Tuesdays average about 20 minutes less time to get home than
Fridays, I have gleaned from about one year of tracking this
information.

But that's for another time, and another blog...

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

People are using less gas?

A news report this morning said people appear to be driving slower due
to consistently high gas prices averaging $3.07 per gallon.

They may be driving slower, but I still see them accelerating just as
hard as usual.

People, hard acceleration saps your mileage even worse than driving
fast! Please think about the next time you start off from a stop sign
or stop light: what's up ahead? If it's another stop sign or traffic
signal, or more cars up there, are you really going to get to your
destination faster if you speed up to ride those peoples' bumpers?

Gentle, sane driving tactics will help improve your fuel economy, and
also reduce the amount of wear and tear on your car.

And it never hurt anyone to be a little polite out there on the roads,
either.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

First Two Tanks of 2008

I have actually refueled twice this year and forgot to enter the first
tank's information until now.

Tank 1: 37.50 mpg
Tank 2: 37.55 mpg

This is interesting to me because this secon dtank I was driving much
faster than I normally do on my way home, at times hitting 75 miles per
hour in light traffic. I also did a fair amount of "in town" driving of
short distances, and had more than one hard acceleration opportunity.

I was expecting my fuel economy to suffer accordingly, but it did not
appear to.

So far in 2008, I have gone 764.5 miles on 20.373 gallons of gas, making
for an average fuel economy of 37.52 miles per gallon. This compared
favorably to the first two tanks of 2007, where fuel economy was about
36.65 mpg. However, at this point in 2007 I was not tracking air
temperature at fill-up time, but as you know, I don't believe in the
"hot gas" theory.

However, I do believe my fuel economy is lower when it's very cold or
very warm outside, due to the additional warm-up time needed in the
cold, and the use of air conditioning during warm weather.