As gas prices rise to an eye-popping $3.58 average in the Washington metro area, drivers are anxious to cut consumption costs. Driving advocacy group AAA says that many gas-saving strategies are mere myths at best and dangerous at worst. They've offered to set the record straight on some common misconceptions:
A vehicle uses more gas to shut down and start up again than it does while idling. AAA points out that while idling, a car is getting zero miles to the gallon. For a vehicle that is warm, there is a minimal amount of gas used to start back up. They advise that if your car is stopped in one place for longer than a minute, shut it down.
Boycotting gas stations will make oil companies lower their prices. AAA says the popular filling station boycotts, which get more publicity as they get picked up on Facebook and Twitter, have no effect on oil companies. If you don't fill up on boycott day, you'll have to buy another day. To drive down the price, drivers need to reduce demand, and that means driving less.
Hypermiling improves gas mileage. In a race-car like maneuver called drafting, highway drivers will tailgate the car in front of them to reduce wind draft. Other drivers put their vehicles into neutral while coasting or going down hill on the driveway. The potential for life-threatening injury far outweighs what minimal gas-efficiency such practices might achieve. Remember your lessons from driver's ed, and be safe.