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Question of the Week: What would convince you to change your driving habits?

2008 June 30

Each week we ask a question related to the environment. Please let us know your thoughts as comments. Feel free to respond to earlier comments or post new ideas. Previous questions.

Driving less, carpooling, and combining errands all mean less pollution. And with fuel prices rising, people are driving less, or driving smarter when they can. But many find it very difficult to drive less because of where they live or what they do.

What would convince you to change your driving habits?


En español: Cada semana hacemos una pregunta relacionada al medio ambiente. Por favor comparta con nosotros sus pensamientos y comentarios. Siéntase en libertad de responder a comentarios anteriores o plantear nuevas ideas. Preguntas previas.

Actividades como el guiar menos, hacer carpool y combinar mandados todas contribuyen a reducir la contaminación. Mientras los precios del combustible están en alza, las personas están conduciendo menos y lo están haciendo de manera más inteligente siempre que pueden. Sin embargo, a veces se les dificulta guiar menos debido al lugar donde viven o por lo que hacen.

¿Qué le convencería para cambiar sus hábitos de guiar?

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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180 Responses leave one →
  1. Joseph permalink
    June 30, 2008

    The availability of a public transit route between my apartment and the area near my office.

    That’s it – just give me a route that doesn’t force me to go through downtown Greensboro (thus adding 90 minutes to my trip).

  2. Karen permalink
    June 30, 2008

    If groceries weighed less, then I wouldn’t drive to the store. It’s 1.5 miles round trip, so I could do it on foot or bike.

  3. Erin permalink
    June 30, 2008

    More public transit routes. I have to go to work, but would TOTALLY ride the bus if I could. At my last job, I could ride the bus and loved it. I could read, relax or even doze off! We need more routes.

  4. Stephanie permalink
    June 30, 2008

    More schedule flexibility would be a big help. I like what they’re doing in Utah.

  5. Lisa permalink
    June 30, 2008


  6. Scott permalink
    June 30, 2008

    Karen, check out the several online options for having groceries delivered to you.

    If I had a really cool car, I’d drive more. As it is now, I’ve got a beater car and easy access to public transpo… so I don’t roll that often.

  7. Ben permalink
    June 30, 2008

    A public transportation system that actually was well funded would convince me. I don’t have any other options at this point.

  8. Joel R. Mullett permalink
    June 30, 2008

    There is nothing you could do to convince me to drive less. As it stands, I take public transportation or walk most everywhere I need to go. I put less than 1,500 miles annually on my car, and am shopping for a hybrid vehicle to replace my Jeep which will lower the emissions for the few miles where I do have to drive. In order to completely eliminate driving altogether, I would have to be provided with an income tax incentive that would compel me to take the bus or walk to places like the grocery store, home improvement or other retailers for foodstuffs, sundries, and other household items.

  9. John permalink
    June 30, 2008

    Two words: public transportation. If all metro areas had subways like DC I think car traffic would be reduced DRAMATICALLY. Even clean, reliable bus systems would help. DC got business people to use the Metro because they designed it to be clean and attractive for them. The same philosophy could be applied to buses as well.

  10. Brandon permalink
    June 30, 2008

    Nothing. I’ll drive when and when I have to and have to deal with the high prices.

  11. Lewis permalink
    June 30, 2008

    My city, Columbus, Georgia, is very pedestrian un-friendly: sidewalks suddenly end or don’t exist in some areas, streets are hardly bicycle friendly, public transportation exists but is relatively useless and as developments sprawl away from downtown, some areas are difficult to reach without a car.

    Being located near a military base (Fort Benning), the city often hosts military personnell who often will not have a car. It’s common to see large groups of uniformed service men and women walking the streets or trying to make their way along the shoulder of busy streets and highways. This is hardly a way for Columbus to show its expected “Southern hospitality.”

    So, to answer the question, making the city pedestrian friendly would do a great deal towards encouraging myself and the good people of Columbus to change our driving habits.

  12. Valerie Toscanini permalink
    June 30, 2008

    I would like public transportation to be more available throughout the US. (I also think it should be free – the government should subsidize public transit instead of fossil fuel)

  13. Valerie Toscanini permalink
    June 30, 2008

    Try a cart with wheels.

  14. Anonymous permalink
    June 30, 2008

    Better public transportation in the long-term. In the short term, better flexibility from employers (adjusting hours to avoid peak traffic times, 4-day week, telecommuting, etc.)

    Also, carpooling – I’m willing, but obviously I can’t force other people to cooperate with me. It takes some sacrifice on both sides.

  15. Todd permalink
    June 30, 2008

    High prices of fuel has sparked my desire to purchase a motorcycle. I’m enjoying the bike, and I’m saving more than half of the fuel cost as compared to before I purchased the bike. Taking the bike two days per week will save me almost 2000.00 in fuel expense per year. My wife accused me of using that as an excuse a couple of years ago. She may have been right, but now it’s not an excuse, it’s a reason………..and a valid one. Did I mention that I’m enjoying the bike?

  16. Barbara permalink
    June 30, 2008

    Hmm…maybe thats why I walk. I hate getting into my car. Its expensive, rough, and takes so long to get through town. I would like to see big, shiny, fast trains come back. I really dont like flying. The airlines are not user friendly these days. Trains can roll right through a an electrical storm.

  17. Robyn permalink
    June 30, 2008

    I have changed my driving habits considerably.
    What makes it easier for me is decent public transportation.
    What I would love to see is POLITE DRIVERS.
    Don’t yell at walkers/cyclists, don’t try to run us off the road.
    Be aware of us when turning.
    Remember, between the mall and your car, YOU are a pedestrian, too.

  18. JJM permalink
    June 30, 2008

    Economics, economics, and economics.

  19. Leslie permalink
    June 30, 2008

    The price of fuel HAS changed my driving habits, I drive slower and less if at all possible.

  20. Kim permalink
    June 30, 2008

    Public transportation (period).

  21. Michele permalink
    June 30, 2008

    A new job closer to home. I can’t change the fact that I have to work so far away. However, if my company took my company truck or my gas card, I may be forced to find a new job because gas would be $350 a month.

  22. 2cents permalink
    June 30, 2008

    Take train to work and school. So, if there were safe, high-quality recreational activities for my 11 year old in my neighborhood, regardless of cost, I could cut 50% additional driving right there. Sadly, no such luck.

  23. Bob permalink
    June 30, 2008

    When the world and the United States of America comit to an enengy policy that recognizes there are limited supplies of all forms of energy and that demand growth can not increase forever.

  24. Phinny's Mom permalink
    June 30, 2008

    I have driven little bitty, 4-cy cars since I bought my first car in 1972. Having paid the bills since then (car, gas and insurance), lived through a couple of energy crisises, and being painfully aware of “saving the planet”, I have always planned my routes and limited my driving to the essentials. I fill my tank every 3-4 weeks. I’m already doing my part and I started out “changing my driving habits.” Enough is enough with the extortion prices of gas.

  25. Anonymous permalink
    June 30, 2008

    More casual work attire days on the job would be encouraging. Wearing a dry clean only suit kills my desire to bike or walk to work. Lugging a suit and heels to work in a back pack is equally unappealing.

  26. Sheila permalink
    June 30, 2008

    Of course–the thing that would help me change my driving habits would be options for getting to and from where I need to be: bus, train, subway, bike paths…. There is no reason major cities like Las Vegas cannot have better public transportation than what we have. None. As well, we need differing going-to and leaving work times than the usual M-F, 8-5, in order to cut down on the many forms of congestion that we have. Thanks!

  27. Ray permalink
    June 30, 2008

    I have to drive from city to city to make a living and my customers want to see me; therefore, I will be there.

  28. June 30, 2008

    faster and reliable transist system. I found that most of the driving is not to and from work but hauling the kids to day care and sports activities. The schools should have good programs that the kids can enroll in and not only at high school. Use the schools buses to the fullest. I also find some of peak hour transit buses drive back empty. this is not efficient use of the buses. transit palnning should be under one state department.

  29. Marie permalink
    June 30, 2008

    Having public transportation that was fast enough to make a difference would increase public ridership.
    In the rural areas of NJ and Eastern PA, the commute time to NYC is prohibitive. In many cases one must drive 1/2 hour to an hour to get to public transportation into NYC, which is another 2 hour trip.
    There needs to be high speed esxpress trains.
    People who use buses do so because they are cheaper than driving and paying parking.
    Some take the ferry but that has become too expensive, only a few dollars less than paying for parking in NYC.

  30. Regina permalink
    June 30, 2008

    I have made some changes already in my driving habits, as I’m sure many Americans have done. But I would say the absolute solution is a Reasonable Priced, Clean and Safe Transportation Infrastructure. This infrastructure should be designed with loading stations in every direction of the city, i.e. (north, south,east, and west) by rail or bus. Whatever works best for city planning.

  31. Karla permalink
    June 30, 2008

    I live in the countryside so public transportation is never going to be an option for me. I need to convince my state of Oregon employer to trust me enough to allow me to telecommute from my home office one day a week. I have all the equipment I need, my job works fine with telecommuting, and the state has a policy – but my supervisor will not allow it. When will managers allow some flexibility to combat high commute costs?!?!?!?!

  32. Leigh permalink
    June 30, 2008

    If Houston had better mass transit such as an extensive train network, I would use it to travel to work, the airport, etc. Unfortunately this is not the case. My commute is too far for walking or biking plus there is the safety factor. I signed up for NuRide but have found that there is little interest in carpooling in my direction as my commute is away from the city center. In fact, Houston has several regions where people work. I do try to plan my errands so that most are done on the way home from work.

  33. Derrick permalink
    June 30, 2008

    I would drive at the speed that my vehicle gets the best mileage on the highway. Wind resistance goes up exponentaly with speed. Keep at the speed limit on highways or go 5 miles per hour less than posted as long as you do not interfer with traffic.
    I have a manual transmission. Now I shift gears at a much lower RPM.
    At times I go from first to third to fifth gear.
    I keep my tires at the recommend pressure as denoted on the door
    I changed spark plugs to a more efficient design and my mileage went up 5 miles per gallon.
    I buy more things on the internet
    I drive less and have started to use a bike
    I waxed my car
    I just purchased a all-wheel drive Subaru at get 27 MPG and stopped using my pick-up truck most of the time

  34. Bob permalink
    June 30, 2008

    More expensive fuel would convince me to change my driving habits.

  35. Triumph Trophy 900 permalink
    June 30, 2008

    1. Motorcycling is more fun and cheaper than driving. However, weather and suits for meetings can limit the bike use. So I only do it when weather and schedule permits. But remember to be safe out there!
    2. Carpooling with the spouse saves me about $15 a day, so we do that when we can. Fortunately she doesn’t need the car most days.
    3. Bus service doesn’t work very well when you have meetings at various locations throughout the day. If I had an express route and no meetings, I’d take the bus.

  36. Gayle permalink
    June 30, 2008

    If we got public transportation in rural/suburbs.
    If they made a car that seats 7, has 4-wheel drive, and has good gas mileage.
    I have made changes by planning our daily trips and coordinating them with my husband to drive less and carpool and doing errands in an efficient manner.

  37. Dave permalink
    June 30, 2008

    Give all illegals a driver’s license. Then I’ll walk.

  38. Jackie permalink
    June 30, 2008

    living in rural america, we need bike trails or walks. there is no way to use alternate ways of transportation when you live 12 miles in the country and must come into town to work. if there were ways to commute safely on rural pathways, nearly half of our population would use walking, biking, etc instead of autos. guess we will have to wait and see or move to the city!

  39. JWW permalink
    June 30, 2008

    Having lived in 14 states and in 21 total cities I have seen it all. However, I have lived in only one location where the city bus stop and time schedule were appropriate enough to use to go back and forth to work. While my wife and I enjoy Sunday afternoon drives in the country, we are not all that fond of driving around the city. So, on Saturday we line up all of the stops we need to make and make the rounds thereby cutting down wasted effort. Unfortunately, this is not possible when you have to make a doctor’s appointment and go to work.

  40. Wildrose permalink
    June 30, 2008

    One thing to convince me to change my own driving habits would be businesses integrating business solution to make it easier for citizens to not have to drive as often or as far to do their business with them. For example, companies that provide copy services, etc to make it easier to perform the services mainly over the internet, or for businesses to entrust in and allow employees to due the bulk of the work at home, unless it is not an achievable objective for an employee to do assignment at home (ie, its a lab, or the employee is using monitoring stations to monitor some aspect of the production that cannot be monitored through a secured internet connection, etc) or for companies, governments, etc to emploee incentive programs for those who carpool and/or purchase and use environmentally friendly vehicles. Another thing is for businesses in the real estate arena to offer discounts or specials to those working or assoiated with a regional sector (such as a business, school, etc that requires that the citizen attend often on it’s grounds) that make it easier for that citizen to move to and/or reside in those areas.

    In other words, in today’s society unfortunately money has made itself a prime determinate of a persons ability to survive. (Side note: people perceptions of who should and should not survive has become mind boggling since we see people being able to survive tremendously merely becuase of some talent granted to them that they were able to express at the right time in the right place whereas geniouses such as Steve Hawkings are left barely able to survive, as a member of the ONE organization I can attest to the concept that too much money sometimes appears to be placed to one place whereas too many other important places are left almost empty-handed) Becuase of this, when it becomes a monetary concern for individuals to engage in environmentally freindly driving practices (ie: it effects their ability to even make money, or it costs too much to engange in those practices, etc) it means that in order to be environmentally friendly, an individual has to compromise their own survival. This (except in the case of the few environmentalists out there that can see the environment as equal to their own selves) makes the individual immediately react as though the environment were their enemy and not their freind.

    My two cents for today :)

  41. UC941 permalink
    June 30, 2008

    You’re right on target with the fuel cost argument.

    However, if you add scheduled maintenance and the cost of those soft tires that only last a few thousand miles, you may find gas will have to be closer to $10 a gallon before you break even with your car’s $/mile operating expense (comparing the same items).

    But don’t tell your wife that part – stick with your original story. It’s more fun on 2 wheels, even if it does cost more.

  42. Anonymous permalink
    June 30, 2008

    Working from home would change my driving habits, but that is not an option my employer allows.

    Also, I would consider riding my bike if it wasn’t so dangerous. Most of the roads where I live have little or no shoulder and the drivers don’t allow enough room.

  43. jennifer permalink
    June 30, 2008

    I wouldn’t have to be convienced… just give me another option that is more enviornmental friendly and I would do it.

  44. Rick permalink
    June 30, 2008

    My short term habits have changed, I recently purchased a motorcycle and have begun commuting with a co-worker. Long term the real problem is not lack of energy, its a lack of political will to use and explore our own resources (ie drilling in ANWR and the continental shelf, increasing our refining capacity, and building nuclear power plants). Our national NIMBY mentality has to stop. If we elect a Democrat to the white house we’ll all be riding mules and living in row houses in the inner city in 4 years.

  45. Terri permalink
    June 30, 2008

    I know price is becoming an issue, but rationing would really get me to change. Anyone with kids knows they aren’t very price sensitive – getting them to give up an extra activity at night or on the weekends can only be accomplished if I can say, “sorry, I can’t get anymore gas this month”.

  46. Jamie McCullough permalink
    June 30, 2008

    Better Public transportation in the West Valley of Phoenix Metro area. A work week of 4 ten hour shifts would help my driving by cutting out 30 miles of driving per week. Do more shopping on line rather than driving to the store.

  47. ERNIE permalink
    June 30, 2008

    bring the national speed limit back to 55 mph
    change the gas pumps back to literss

  48. Pam permalink
    June 30, 2008

    How do you stop activities like working out at the wellness center so you can ride the bus? Which is more important, taking the bus and not working out or driving and working out?

  49. Mario permalink
    June 30, 2008

    The availability of a public transit route between my home and the area near my office. One of the issues here is the public transportation system is cannot access the military instalation due to the security of the base. Thus we are having to make other choices. I try to ride my motor cycle when the weather permitts. That works in the summer but, effective Oct 1 they are prohibited for use on the base. So we’re stuck with seasonal options.

  50. Rick permalink
    June 30, 2008

    Please tell me you’re not honestly advocating gasoline rationing. Do you want to drive our economy into a depression, cost literally hundreds and thousands of jobs, and cause violent riots all over the country?

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