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Driving Habits That Could Help The Planet
better drive
A few simple tweaks to drivers’ daily habits can benefit the planet in myriad ways.

Habits can be hard to kick. Many people need a unique catalyst in order to ditch habits they’ve long wanted to put in their rearview mirrors. New Year’s Day is one notable example of a unique event that compels millions of people to make positive changes every year.

Though it might not be a cause for celebration like the dawn of a new year, increased awareness of climate change and its effects could be the catalyst many people need to make positive, planet-friendly changes to their daily routines.

Driving habits are one area where individuals can alter their daily routines in ways that benefit the planet. These eco-friendly alterations can be instituted each day by individuals who want to do their part to combat climate change.

Avoid aggressive driving. Aggressive driving is both a safety risk and a threat to the environment. According to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, aggressive driving can lower gas mileage in light-duty vehicles by as much as 40 percent in stop-and-go traffic and by as much as 30 percent at highway speeds.

Avoid idling. Many drivers have long relied on idling to warm up their vehicles on cold mornings. However, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control notes that modern vehicles do not need warming up in temperatures above 0 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s important that drivers recognize this, as idling wastes fuel and increases the amount of vehicle exhaust in the air. Vehicle exhaust increases air pollution and contains pollutants that have been linked to asthma, additional lung diseases and heart disease. A far more effective, and considerably less harmful, way to warm up a vehicle is to do so for 30 seconds and then drive slowly for the first few minutes.

Purchase a fuel-efficient vehicle. Drivers looking for their next vehicle can prioritize fuel efficiency if they want their driving habits to have a smaller carbon footprint. The Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency provide information on fuel efficient vehicles, and that information can be accessed at In addition, the EPA’s Green Vehicle Guide notes that electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, and cleaner burning gasoline vehicles are among the more efficient and less polluting cars and trucks on the market.

Make fewer trips. The Fremont Green Challenge reports that more than half of all driving trips in the United States are taken for social, recreational, shopping, or family/personal errands. By combining these trips, drivers can greatly reduce their driving miles. Fewer trips conserves fuel and can reduce air pollution.