Help! I’m a Driving Junkie!

drivingHi. My name is Maggie and I’m addicted to driving. I knew I was driving a lot just by looking at my budget and seeing how much money I spend on fuel but during our Eco-Challenge month I thought I’d track my daily mileage and find out specifically how it all adds up. Well, it’s not pretty. Today is May 13th so in just under two weeks I have driven a total of 392 miles, or an average of 30 miles a day.

That’s pretty startling when you realize that Bloomington is about 10 miles wide at its widest point. Some of the mileage is unusual – 86 miles down to Paoli and back to work on Brambleberry Farm , 45 miles out to Beanblossom Bottoms to see the eagles nesting. However, that still leaves 261 miles.

Of those, 78 miles were trips I had to take for my Sycamore Land Trust job. I love the fact that I get paid for mileage but it’s frustrating that I have to travel to a lot of places that aren’t accessible by public transportation (schools outside city limits, nature preserves, etc.). On the other hand, at least for now I think the job (environmental education) is important enough to justify some extra travel time.

The remaining 183 miles were used driving around town and that’s the part I’d like to improve on. A lot of it comes down to a question of routines and habits. It’s really easy to think “Oh, while I’m out, I’ll just swing by the bank” when the bank isn’t actually anywhere on my route. I’ve also gotten into the habit of coming home for lunch, which is very relaxing and I tend to eat more nutritious, cheaper food but it packs on the miles. And there’s also the cold hard fact that I *could* take the bus more places if I were willing to make the extra effort. It’s slower and less convenient and makes it harder to haul my junk around. But I’m ready to give the bus another chance and to plan my day around its schedule. Hopefully I can cut back dramatically on those in-town mileage.

Alas, the last week of this month I’m taking a trip by car to Raleigh, N.C. and then up to Washington, D.C. so I’m pretty sure this is not the month for kicking my addiction completely. Maybe in June…

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5 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Andy said,

    May 14, 2008 @ 10:02 am

    I’m fairly addicted to driving as well. I put 40,000 miles on a van that I drive for work in the las 3 years. I can justify that though since my job is shuttling people between campuses that would have driven their cars individually otherwise, and I average driving 13 people in a day. I liked a line on my new job description that basically said: If you like driving but hate the impacts of cars, his job is for you. The job is with a carsharing company that can supposedly keep 15 cars off the road for each car they own.

    Also, I’m one of those crazy hypermiler people you have hear about on the news. I am an extremely safe driver (none of the crazy things like drafting) and I went from getting 23mpg in my old Subaru to 35mpg. The van I drive for work is rated for 18mpg and I now get 27mpg. So I still use gas and have an impact from driving, but now I use a bit less when i do drive, and I rarely drive my own car. And next week my car will be gone, and I’ll be walking, biking, mopeding, carsharing, and taking the bus.

  2. 2

    Jessica said,

    May 14, 2008 @ 12:24 pm

    I should really track my miles too, but I know they’re going to be bad. I need to get a bike. Next month, I promise.

  3. 3

    Linnea said,

    May 14, 2008 @ 2:23 pm

    Cascade Bike Club has a bike to work challenge going on. I think that sort of thing really helps motivate folks to get their butts on a bike, even if it’s only a few days a week (you might still win a prize…)

    I noticed that the Thai restaurant across the street got a carbon reduction certificate for contributing to the use of biofuels. I’ve never seen anything like that before, has anyone else? I mean, I know businesses like to put up certificates and awards, it makes sense to give one out for supplying WVO. Seems like that kind of thing (in my head) would help mitigate the crunch on restaurants caused by price increases in staple foods. Your meal might cost a dollar more, but you get to take home a pint of WVO :-)

  4. 4

    Ian said,

    May 14, 2008 @ 8:13 pm

    At least you never seem to have gotten dad’s driving bug like me. Thinking about it, I do believe I will have put 30,000 miles on my car before I have owned it for two years.

    Biking or running are possibilities for keeping the mileage off the vehicle. I am hoping to run to work myself once it bothers to warm up here, although I must admit that that is due to training, but, heck, multiple savings for one action is generally a good thing, regardless.

  5. 5

    Maggie said,

    May 15, 2008 @ 8:30 pm

    I’ve not mastered the art of hypermiling. I think I’ve met too many people who were obsessive about it and got kinda turned off. I also hate being honked at and accelerating slowly from a stoplight seems to trigger aggressive behavior from other drivers.

    I like the “carbon reduction certificate” idea. I am working on a flyer I can hand out to restaurants asking for their waste vegetable oil. It’s something I find very challenging so I keep procrastinating but the certificate idea is inspiring. Sorta like a special award. Hmmmm.

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