There are a few things that Chicagoans deal with daily that really brings a sense of camaraderie to our beloved city: temperamental weather, excessive wind, delicious hot dogs, and insane amounts of traffic. Though many of us have gotten used to holding our hats and skirts down with one hand while indulging in a hot dog with no ketchup in the other, something that no one can really get used to is the traffic.
Stop-and-go traffic has become a sort of lifestyle here in Chicago and as recent studies will show, its effects are greater on our environment than we may have thought. More than 127 million gallons of excess fuel consumption equating to 2.3 billion pounds of excess CO2 emissions (according to the Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s annual “Urban Mobility Report.”) come from stop-and-go practices. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, “Idling can use a quarter to a half gallon of fuel per hour, depending on engine size and air conditioner use.” For motorists, that means the time spent in stop-and-go traffic costs more than 50 gallons of extra gas per year, or more $2,500, depending on fuel tank capacity. For the environment and air quality in Chicago, these excess emissions can be hazardous and warrant attention.
Experts on stop-and-go traffic offered solutions in three tiers:
1. Practice good driving habits:
Expert Beth Mosher, Public Affairs Director of AAA Chicago, made comments on good and bad driving habits–
“One of the keys to fuel economy is practicing good driving habits and avoiding the bad ones. Go easy on the gas and brake pedals and avoid making quick starts at green lights and sudden stops at red lights. Speed also is a key factor in conserving fuel. The fuel efficiency of most vehicles decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph. Every additional 5 mph above 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.24 per gallon for gas. Take it easy on the road and you’ll see a tremendous savings at the pump.” For more information, click here.
2. Consider the cost of ownership and purchase a hybrid.
Bob Anderson, GM of Taxi Affiliation Services, on the value of a hybrid*: “We have begun to switch over to hybrids and Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) vehicles because we want to avoid gas price volatility and because the federal government is incentivizing industries like ours to go green, among other reasons. Bottom line, hybrids are the vehicles you want to have in the kind of stop-and-go traffic you see in Chicago. The total cost of ownership is lower than a non-hybrid, hybrids hold their value well and they are better for the environment.” For more information, click here.
*Taxi Affiliation Services manages Checker, Yellow, Blue Diamond and American United cab companies.
3. Always be looking at new fuel saving technologies on the market.
John Guido, GM of Arlington Heights Ford, on new fuel saving technologies: “We are seeing more and more consumer interest in Auto Start/Stop. The technology saves consumers fuel when the car is standing and running idle. When a vehicle comes to a stop, Auto Start/Stop will automatically switch the engine off, reducing gas consumption and exhaust emissions to zero. As soon as the driver releases the brake pedal, the engine restarts and is ready to go by the time the driver presses the accelerator pedal. Since idling can use a quarter- to a half-gallon of fuel per hour, depending on engine size and air conditioner use, Auto Start/Stop is a really big deal for stop-and-go drivers. And, at $295 as an option, it’s a no-brainer for stop-and-go traffic.” For more information, click here.
And finally, if you’re more of a visual learner, check out this infographic below on some new fuel saving technology.