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Avoid the high cost of school traffic


Published: Sep 03, 2013

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The cost of fuel remains high, hovering around $5.50 per gallon, but with all schools going into session yesterday you may expect your monthly fuel bill to go up with increased traffic that results in wasteful idling.

This doesn’t have to be your fate. Here are a few tips adapted from the Automobile Association of the UK to help you reduce pollution, fuel consumption and thus save money.

The first tip is really a test of your patience because unfortunately when driving in traffic people tend to pull out it in front of you at the last minute, not using indicators properly or at all.

To help with your mileage, drive as smoothly as possible; this means speeding up gradually and slowing down to a stop.

As far as you can keep your car rolling if only a little bit. Constant starting and stopping will increase fuel usage.

At low speeds the air-conditioning will increase your consumption of fuel so if you are on the road in the morning or late afternoon when it’s cooler, try driving with the windows rolled down.

Another fuel buster is those fancy bells and whistles that consume the electrical load in your vehicle like the heated rear windscreen or headlights. If you don’t really need them, turn them off.

I know most of you don’t want to hear this one, but obeying the speed limit actually can result in better mileage. According to the AA, greater speeds means more pollution and more fuel consumption.

Of course none of us should be driving at these speeds anyway because the highest speed limit around round town is 45 mph, but this is for those of you who fly past me when I am on JFK: 70 mph uses up to nine percent more fuel than at 60 mph, and up to 15 percent more than at 50 mph.

The simplest one may yet be the most difficult – get up and get out early, avoiding traffic all together. Try to negotiate your work times to an earlier start and end time. Avoid setting meetings that have you on the road before 10 a.m. or anywhere around the 3 p.m. hour.

This is important because the biggest draw on your fuel usage is idling your car, and that applies to whether you are sitting in traffic or sitting in line at your favorite fast food joint. If you are going to be still for more than three minutes, turn your vehicle off – you’re just burning money.

You might also want to consider car-pooling with co-workers or friends with children at the same school.

One thing that would really help is if all of the schools both private and public agree on staggered opening and ending times. This could certainly end gridlock in some key areas, like the eastern end of the island where you have the following schools all within the same vicinity: Dame Doris Johnson High, St. Augustine College, Queen’s College, Kingsway Academy, St. Anne’s, Sandiland’s Primary and L. W. Young High School. This is not counting the smaller establishments.

I am counting on you to do your best to conserve on energy but please look out for the little people on the streets. If a car slows down, this is not your cue to quickly overtake.

Proceed with caution – they may just be letting your loved one across the street.


• We would like to hear how this article has helped you. Send questions or comments to sbrown@graphitebahamas.com. Sonia Brown is the principal of Graphite Engineering Ltd and is a registered professional engineer.



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