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City of Peoria Press Release

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Simple Steps Yield Cleaner, More Fuel-Efficient Driving

Fleet Manager Warren Laing, Transit Manager Randy Roberts Share What They’ve Learned


As the managers of Peoria’s Fleet and Transit divisions, we know firsthand the effects wrought by this year’s spike in fuel prices. We’ve also spent a lot of time researching cleaner-running vehicles as part of the city’s effort to reduce its environmental footprint.

Even before prices jumped at the pump, we were increasing the percentage of hybrid and alternative-fuel vehicles in the city’s fleet as a response to the Valley’s poor air quality. And since the run-up in fueling costs, we’ve become very attuned to the little things that, added up, can reduce the fuel consumption and minimize the environmental impact of our vehicles.

Because these strategies work just as well with private vehicles, we’d like to share some of what we’ve learned.

When it comes to fuel conservation, the most important vehicle technology by far is … the driver.

• Slow down. Speeding increases fuel consumption and also may boost emissions.
• Do not accelerate aggressively or brake sharply.
• When traffic is light enough, use cruise control on the highway. A steady speed decreases gas pedal activity, which saves fuel.
• Avoid drive-through lanes and, in general, limit idling to one minute.
• Lighten the load. Every additional 250 pounds causes a car to lose about 1 mpg in fuel economy.
• Be aerodynamic. Roll up the windows. If you have a pickup truck, it’s more fuel efficient to keep the tailgate up.

A little planning also can go a long way toward saving fuel.

• Try to combine errands into one trip and take the most economical route. In 2007, UPS shaved nearly 30 million miles off its delivery runs and saved 3 million gallons of fuel by incorporating as many right turns as possible into its routes.
• Don’t “top off” when refueling. This practice often results in spilling fuel on the ground -- maybe only an ounce or two, but still enough to have a significant impact on air pollution. The hydrocarbon emission from one ounce of spilled fuel is equivalent to 88 miles of normal driving in a new car, or about 55 miles of driving in a light truck.
• Purchase a fuel-efficient vehicle.
• Take your lunch to work. That will eliminate mid-day travel and reduce the time spent in drive-through lines.
• Consider alternatives to driving alone: carpools, vanpools or buses, as well as motorcycling, biking or walking.
• Discuss telecommuting or an alternative work schedule with your employer.
Preventive maintenance is important, too.
• Well-timed oil changes and vehicle checks reduce wear and tear, increase lifespan, prevent brake drag and help air pollution from increasing as a vehicle ages.
• Replacing a clogged air filter improves gas mileage by as much as 10 percent and keeps impurities from damaging the engine.
• Proper tire inflation yields optimum fuel economy, maximizes tire life and improves handling, braking and comfort.
• Repair air-conditioner leaks immediately. In Arizona, we often need to turn on our air conditioners in order to beat the heat. But if your car’s cooling system has a leak, be sure to get it fixed immediately, because some AC units contain toxins that are very bad for the environment.

Depending upon where you live, what you do for a living and the type of vehicle you use, some of the practices above may be more practical for you than others. There is no simple answer to our energy and environmental problems. But every tip that you can work into your daily routine will add up -- diminishing our nation’s dependence on foreign oil, reducing pollution and saving you money at the fuel pump.

Warren Laing is Peoria’s fleet manager and Randy Roberts is the city’s transit manager.