In many places, you don’t have much choice for safely reducing your speed for fuel efficiency. High speed limits, often set because people were already going fast on these stretches, make it difficult to slow down without unacceptable risk.
Google Maps, traditional thinking, and just about everybody will tell you to stick to the interstate, but what if I told you that you could go slower without losing much time?
Here’s one example from my region. If you’re heading from El Paso, Texas to Phoenix, Arizona, you’ll definitely save time traveling on the interstate. For a 6-7 hour drive, I-10 saves you about a half hour on paper. But the reality is that it’s more like to 10-15 minutes. And for that 10-15 minutes, you’re traveling an extra 30-50 miles, depending on what part of the Phoenix metro area you’re going to.
For the Texas example, you can look closer and see the state and U.S. highways. You’re not only able to get there more directly than the interstates allow, but the speed limits are lower on the more direct routes. If you’re open to taking other roads than the interstate and don’t mind taking a few more minutes to get somewhere, the rural roads are a good bet in many places.
Plus, there’s the added benefit of lower traffic, which gives you more leeway to vary your speed for greater efficiency.
The below image shows us that maximum speed limits vary around the US. While the major highways in the western US tend to be MPG/Range killers, they’re not so bad in the eastern states. You probably will not often find superior backroads in the east unless you are willing to go really slow.
When traveling on the highway, your choice of lane is also important. For safety, stay in the right lane if you’re going to go slower than the average traffic. It’s the law in most states, and it’s much safer. Be smart and stay in the right lane.
The Goldilocks Zone
When planning your routes, keep in mind that it’s a balance. If you really need to get somewhere faster and can’t leave earlier, choose the faster route. It’s OK. Life can’t always revolve around gas savings. For electric, you have the option to speed up if it’s within the range you get at higher speeds.
If you have more time and patient passengers, use the more fuel efficient route or get more range.
Or do a mix of the two. It’s all up to you. The great thing about eco motoring is that you have it as a tool in your toolbox to use when it fits the situation.