In recent news, you may have heard about one airline’s clever solution to combat skyrocketing fuel charges–without sticking it to their customers. Rather than increasing ticket fares or charging for extra baggage, Brussels Airlines will simply fly its same routes a mere 5 mph slower than it has been, slowing from 435 to 429 mph. While saving 1.1 million Euros per year (roughly 2 million dollars U.S.), the airline’s flights will arrive only 1 to 2 minutes later than they did previously (read more here).
Families hitting the highways for road trips this summer might do well to follow suit. Though I admit that, having survived a number of 1,000 mile road trips with babies and toddlers in my back seat, it’s hard to imagine most families with babies and small children in the car stretching out their drives by any additional minutes whatsoever.
But maybe we don’t have to. According to this article by CNNMoney.com, a LandRover SUV driving with its cruise control set to 70 mph got almost 14% better gas mileage than it did when cruising at “driver-controlled speeds” between 65 and 75 mph. The article underscores the issue that driving-style, mainly how we use the gas and break pedals, greatly impacts how far our gallons of gas carry us–especially in stop and go traffic and in passing lanes.
Still, it’s worth noting that fuel economy drops by about 1% with each additional mph of speed you add over 55 mph. As The Chronicle found in this test drive of a 2001 Chevy Malibu (back in 2005, when Bay Area gas was an alarming $2.99 per gallon instead of the $3.96 I paid this week…), the car averaged 35 miles to the gallon when sticking to 55 mph on California freeways. Driving the reverse route at just over 70 mph, the same car averaged 25 miles to the gallon.
Perhaps it’s time sites like Mapquest add a few new features to their “Get Directions” options, like “Most scenic” and “Most cruise-control friendly” routes. (They have added a cool new feature for searching gas prices, BTW.) If we’re going to slow down, let’s at least enjoy the scenery. If we’re not going to slow down, let’s at least try and take full advantage of the cruise control.
Shelly Rivoli, Author of the award-winning guide Travels with Baby
The Ultimate Guide for Planning Trips with Babies, Toddlers, and Preschool-Age Children