I like numbers. I like to figure stuff. Especially stuff about money. This post has been rolling around in my mind for awhile. And I don’t think there is going to be any room in my brain for new blog post ideas until this one gets out of my brain. So, here we go.
Gas. Gas. Gas. Everybody is talking about the high price of gas. Every night on the news, it seems we have hit a new record for the average cost of a gallon of gas in this country. Even the president is talking about gas. Lots of campers, like us, are talking about the price of gas.
Now when we are not camping, I visit my mom twice a week. Our usual routine is that Dan goes with me once during the week, and I visit her by myself on the weekend. That’s when he stays home and watches sports. Call me June Cleaver, but usually the only time I drive is when I visit my mom by myself.
The drive to my mom’s home is 34 miles one way, most of it is on the highways. I drive the speed limit – which is 60 miles per hour. Everybody, and I mean everybody, passes me. Young, old, women, men, new cars, old cars, trucks, limos, and even RVs go right on by. I am like a rock in a stream standing still with a river of cars flowing right past me.
Now most of them are not driving like crazy, speed demons. Just faster than 60 mph, probably about 70 mph.
But here’s the thing. According to energy.gov, driving 70 mph versus 60 mph reduces fuel efficiency by 14% (on average.)
Let’s translate that a bit more.
According to that same website, energy.gov, the average miles per gallon at 60 miles per hour is 28. The average mpg is at 70 mph is 24. And according to fhwa.dot.gov, the average number of miles driven per year is 13, 476. Yes, I know it’s all averages, but you can adjust things up or down for your personal situation.
Continuing down this road, at 60 mph, 13,476 miles would require 481.29 gallons of gas. At $5 per gallon, that is $2406.43.
At 70 mph, 13,476 miles would require 561.50 gallons of gas. At $5 per gallon, that is $2807.50.
The difference is $401.07.
Let’s keep going.
Driving 13,476 at 60 mph would require 224.6 hours.
Driving 13,476 at 70 would require 192.51 hours.
That’s a difference of 32.09 hours.
So, 401.07 divided by 32.09 is a rate of $12.50 per hour. So, when you drive 60 mph instead of 70 mph, you are earning $12.50 an hour. Remember, that amount is not subject to taxation, so it’s like “cash under the table.” Except you don’t have to worry about being audited. Now, $12.50 per hour may be less than what working folks can earn. But for us retired folks, it’s a pretty good deal.
Even retired folks don’t take the deal though. My husband doesn’t. And I don’t say a word about it. The closest I get is when someone flies by us on the highway, and he says, “Wow. Look how fast this car is going” – or something along those lines. And I’ll say, “Yep. They are just throwing money out the window.” That’s the closest I get.
And for full disclosure here, when I worked, I did not drive 60 mph. I usually drove 5 mph over the speed limit. I had a long commute – and a Prius, and, frankly, I wanted to get to where I was going. Especially home at the end of the day.
And for continued full disclosure, if the speed limit is higher than 60 mph, I will drive the speed limit. It seems to me to be the safe thing to do. When Dan is driving the travel trailer, he never goes over 65 mph. Again, safety first.
What do you think? Why don’t people drive with fuel efficiency in mind?
I’m guessing 60 mph feels too slow for people. They would rather get to where they are going. Maybe the financial savings doesn’t seem like much – especially when it is thought of as per trip, rather than an annual amount. Maybe the dollars are not tangible enough. Maybe people think they can make more money somewhere or save money somewhere else, but they can’t make more time – which is true. Maybe people just follow the crowd. Maybe people just don’t think about it.
But I do think about it. And if you’ve read this far, you have, too. If you want $401.07, you know where to find it. Otherwise, I’ll just smile and wave as you go by. I’ll see you down the road, right after I stop at the bank.