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Conserve gas and reduce air pollution

Jan. 13, 2011 at midnight
Updated Jan. 12, 2011 at 7:13 p.m.


By Meridith Byrd

Let's face it, Victoria is not a densely packed urban center where it is easy to get around on foot. Cars are a way of life around here, and gas is expensive, so make sure you do all you can to maximize your gas mileage.

Check your tire pressure regularly, as tire pressure changes when the weather goes from hot to cold.

Underinflated tires decrease gas mileage, increase wear and tear, and are not as safe as tires that are properly inflated.

A clean fuel filter is essential as well.

Cars that are well-maintained run better and pollute less.

Using cruise control helps your gas mileage by keeping the speed constant. Maintaining a moderate speed in town can help you to catch more green lights and stretch the gas in your tank a little further. While you are out, be sure to combine your errands into one trip rather than making a number of small trips from home.

It might surprise you, but idling for more than 10 seconds uses the same amount of gas as turning your ignition on. So if you are going to be waiting in your car for more than 10 seconds, perhaps at a drive-thru, it is actually better to just turn off the car. It takes practice, but you can get in the habit of turning off the car while you wait.

Marie Lester, environmental programs coordinator for the city of Victoria, encourages residents to adopt this practice.

"Air Victoria hired the University of Texas to research the causes of local air pollution," Lester said. "Only a few of the sources can be controlled, and the biggest thing that the average Victorian can do to help our air quality is to stop idling in their car."

The Air Victoria group is encouraging businesses to join local elementary schools and Halliburton in becoming "no idle zones." Businesses who make the pledge receive a sign posted at their location that reminds people to turn their cars off while they wait.

Lester would like to see more businesses become "no idle zones," especially banks, pharmacies, and drive-thrus where idling most often occurs. Individuals can pledge not to idle at the Pledge Blue Sky website, www.victoriabluesky.org, and receive a sticker that says "I made the Blue Sky no idle pledge." "Having a sticker on your car can serve as a reminder for other cars around you to turn off their ignition," Lester said.

So the next time you're waiting for your burger and shake, your prescription or your deposit slip, turn off your car. It will keep you from wasting gas while cutting down our air pollution.

Meridith Byrd is a marine biologist and invites readers to contact her at meridith.byrd@gmail.com.

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