Use these tips to drive more efficiently and so save on gas

Higher gas prices do not mean that it has automatically to cost you a whole lot more to go places in your car. With careful driving, you can reduce the amount of gas you use and so maintain your spending on fuel at a more reasonable level.

When you have driven for a long time without having to worry about gas consumption, you might find you need to change your driving habits. It is worth doing so; your wallet will thank you. Turn it into a game and make it fun.

Here are tips to help you do so.

Drive efficiently

• Remember that each time you press your foot on the accelerator pedal you are using gas. The more you push down on the pedal, the more gas you use. The key, therefore, is to push as lightly as necessary on the pedal at all times.

When you start off from a traffic light or a stop street, press down just enough on your gas pedal to get going at a reasonable speed. There is absolutely no need to beat the car next to you or to impress the driver behind you just how impressively fast your car can travel in 60 seconds.

Follow the same practice when picking up speed after traffic has slowed you down. Do so steadily. There is no need to speed ahead; you will not get there any faster.

• As you drive, keep thinking about lifting your foot off the gas pedal rather than pushing down harder on it, particularly once you are traveling on the freeway at the speed limit. You will find that it is possible at times to maintain the same speed and yet reduce pressure on the gas pedal.

• If your car has a device that tells you your gas consumption as you are driving, this can be a useful guide. You will be able to tell in which conditions you are using more gas than in others. See if you can learn some tricks to keep the miles-per-gallon figure as high as possible in certain driving situations.

• Avoid braking suddenly wherever possible. Slow down as you approach a red light or a stop street.

Try other routes.

You likely consume the most gas when starting up, slowing down and starting up again. The worst situation is in stop-and-go traffic. At those times, there is not too much you can do to drive more efficiently; you simply have to follow the car in front of you. If your regular route is often clogged up with traffic, consider another route; it might be a little longer, but if you can travel smoothly without having to stop all the time it will help you save gas.

Keep to the speed limit

Each vehicle reaches its optimal level in fuel efficiency at a different speed, but gas consumption generally increases quickly at speeds above 50 to 55 miles an hour. Assume that for every 5 miles an hour you drive over 50 mph is equivalent to paying an additional 29 cents a gallon.

Here again, press lightly on that pedal whenever possible.

Plan and combine trips

Your fuel economy is worse when you start up your engine when it is cold rather than when it is warmed up. It is a good idea, therefore, to take a longer trip combining several errands than to take several short trips from a cold start.

It also, of course, reduces the distance you travel.

Stagger commuting hours

If you are working from an office or worksite and you need to commute each day, try to stagger your work hours so that you avoid the peak rush hours with slow or stop-and-go traffic.

Of course, working from home is the best solution as far as gas consumption is concerned and is available to many workers today. Also, take advantage of ride-share programs and carpools.

If public transport is available, taking it also is a great solution.

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