On the Road

Emissions from motor vehicles account for almost a third of the air pollution in the United States. Florida’s nearly 13 million licensed drivers have the opportunity to significantly lessen the impact of our road trips and daily commutes by adopting just one more easy-to-do green habit.

Drivers Protect Air Quality

  • Keep your engine tuned. Tuning your engine can increase gas mileage by an average of four percent.
  • Avoid keeping unnecessary items in your vehicle, especially heavy ones. An extra 100 pounds in your vehicle could reduce your mpg by up to two percent.
  • Keep the tires properly inflated. You can improve your gas mileage by around 3.3 percent by keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure.
  • Limit engine idle. Call 511 to find and avoid traffic jams or download Florida Department of Transportation’s 511 Traveler Information System for up-to-the-minute roadway information. The app is available for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch in the iTunes App Store. Idling gets ZERO miles per gallon. For every two minutes a car is idling, it uses about the same amount of fuel it takes to travel one mile.
  • Combine errands. Several short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much fuel as one trip covering the same distance when the engine is warm. Better still, invite friends who need to run errands along the same route to carpool. Fewer cars on the road mean fewer emissions in our air.

Drivers protect water quality

  • Recycle motor oil. The used oil from a single oil change, if disposed of improperly, can contaminate 1,000,000 gallons of fresh water. Most oil change centers will take your used oil for recycling. One gallon of used motor oil provides the same 2.5 quarts of lubricating oil as 42 gallons of crude oil.
  • Take your vehicle to a commercial car wash. The Clean Water Act requires professional car washes to pipe dirty water to water treatment facilities or into drainage facilities designed to protect the environment.
  • Recycle batteries. Most auto care centers will take your old battery. The lead and plastic can be recycled and used to make more batteries. Battery acid (sulfuric acid) can be neutralized or converted into sodium sulfate, which is used to process wood pulp, to make glass and detergent and in the textile dyeing process.

Drivers conserve water

  • Drive through the car wash. The average do-it-yourselfer uses about 100 gallons of water to wash a car. Most commercial car washes use 60 percent less water.
  • Bypass the hose and use a spray-and-wipe product to clean your car.

Drivers reduce waste

  • Take worn tires to a local recycling facility or tire retailer. Recycled tires can be used as fuel in cement kilns and pulp and paper factories. Tire shreds can be used to stabilize weak soil when constructing road embankments. Ground rubber is being used in many states in rubberized asphalt to pave playgrounds, running tracks and roads.
  • Reuse old tires. Tire swings, crash barriers around race tracks and boat bumpers at marinas are just a few ways to reuse old tires.

Visit Earth 911 to locate places to recycle your motor oil, batteries and tires. Learn more about improving gas mileage.

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