The subject of gasoline price comes up frequently in everyday conversations and in the media, and it always seems to be in the context of its high cost. The discussions or exhortations generally rotate among themes of “who is to blame?” “remember when?” and “it is so high it is going to ruin the economy.” Based on my observations, I have never understood the idea that gasoline is too expensive. Let me explain.
I will agree that gasoline is too expensive when the following occur.
- People don't leave their cars idling when not in use. I am always amazed to see people sitting in a parked car with the engine running. Whether talking on the phone, leaving the car to run a quick errand, waiting for a cheeseburger, or talking to a driver in an adjacent vehicle which is also idling; the thought of turning off the engine seems to never come to mind. A study by the Environmental Defense Fund estimated the annual cost of idling at $44 a year per vehicle. Modern vehicles suffer no ill effects from stopping/starting the engine and, unlike older cars, very little gasoline is used by modern starters. You will save gasoline if you can turn your engine off for as little as 15 seconds.
- People maintain their vehicles. Keeping tires properly inflated and doing basic engine maintenance can save up to 25 cents a gallon according to a study by the Department of Energy. The Department of Transportation estimates this waste at 5 million gallons of fuel per day.
- People stop driving gas guzzling vehicles. Enough said?
We could expand this discussion to the associated costs in pollution, CO2 emissions, cost of replacing tires prematurely from driving while under-inflated, and many others, but we'll save that discussion for another day. It seems to all boil down to a common problem in current culture. People would much rather complain than do something to fix a problem. Envision a driver, sitting in an idling SUV, with the AC on, the window open, the tires under-inflated, and complaining about the high cost of gasoline.