“We” (as the statists always style it) waste a lot of fuel in this country. No doubt you’ve heard that one before. But let’s examine the cliche from a slightly different perspective: The many ways via which the government wastes our fuel.
* Out-of-synch traffic lights –
Broad avenue, three or four traffic lights – each spaced say 500 yards apart as you proceed down the road. The first goes green just as the one up ahead turns red. Or vice-versa. Writ small, a Clover Conga. Inch forward a bit – then stop and wait some more. It takes 15 minutes to clear a mile or so of road that – if the lights all went green at once – you could probably traverse in two minutes or so. Write large – extrapolated nationwide – a massive waste of gas as millions of car engines idle while the cars themselves go nowhere. The government itself concedes that as much as 10 percent of the fuel used by Americans each year is burnt up by cars idling uselessly at lights. With all the AI-type computers and cameras everywhere, it surely can’t be much of a technical challenge to coordinate traffic signals so they encourage free-flowing traffic as opposed to mucking up the flow of traffic. It’s a no-cost solution to a real problem.
Which is probably why the government is doing nothing about it. Or rather, doing more to make it worse.
Other than it being “the law,” is there any sensible reason for coming to a complete stop at an intersection where sight lines are open and you can clearly see there are no other cars in the immediate vicinity? Losing momentum – and having to regain it – wastes a tremendous amount of fuel. It does not take much horsepower – and so, not much fuel – to keep even the biggest “gas hog” SUV moving. But it does take a great deal of fuel to get the thing moving in the first place. A vehicle that weighs say 3,200 pounds and which is powered by a 270 hp V-6 may only need 30 or 40 hp to cruise in top gear at a steady 45 MPH. But it needs a whole lot more than 30 or 40 hp to push (or pull, if FWD) that 3,200 pounds to 45 MPH from a dead stop. The more stop-and-go, the faster the gas needle moves from right to left. Stop less – and save more. Some (Clovers) will object to the idea of people exercising discretion and judgment – as opposed to worshipful blind obedience to signage. But then they ought to mewl less about “wasting gas.”
Which of course, they won’t.
* Make-work “safety” zones –
It used to be that if work was being done on a stretch of road, they’d put up cones and so on to direct traffic around the area being worked on. Apparently, one-too-many Clovers ran down one-too-many workers and the result is the “pilot car” safety zone. You sit and wait – burning up fuel and time – awaiting the “pilot car” to lead the Clover Conga through the perilous work zone. The “pilot car” is piloted by a bored and indifferent person who always takes his time. Or rather, yours. Plus of course, your fuel. All because a Mr. (or Mrs.) McGoo type of Clover didn’t see the standing army of orange cones or the sea of blinking lights – and mowed down some unfortunate highway worker. Instead of taking Mr. McGoo off the road, the government’s solution is to make the rest of us wait by the side of the road for the “pilot car” to safely guide us through the gantlet. And naturally, the “pilot car” is invariably a large truck – probably with a large (and hungry) V-8 under its hood – running back and forth and back and forth all day long.
* Lower speed limits for big trucks –
In many areas, heavy trucks are restricted to a lower speed than other traffic (for example 55 MPH vs. 65). The one-dimensional idea being that this will make the roads “safer” by dint of limiting the speed of the heavy trucks. Without deconstructing that shibboleth (again) let’s look at another dimension – and unintended side-effect – of this policy: Congealed traffic – and wasted fuel. Heavy trucks rely on momentum to maintain their pace. They go faster on the downhills in order to avoid slowing to a crawl on the uphills. But when they are legally restricted to go slow on the downhills, it’s a guaranteed thing they’ll go even slower come the uphill. Instead of maintaining 60-ish because they started out with a decent head of steam, they gimp down to 40-ish…. with all the rest of us forced to slow down – and burn up more fuel than we otherwise would have. Driving an OTR truck requires a great deal more skill than putting a Corolla’s shifter into “D” and pushing down on the gas pedal. Yet the government restricts the freedom of action of the OTR trucker even more than it does the Corolla driver.
That’s Uncle for you, though. He’s irascible, controlling – and violent. Rarely sensible. And always wasteful.
Unfortunately, he’s always along for the ride, too.
Throw it in the Woods?