To help clean up our air by inspiring changes in driving behavior, Texas Department of Transportation recently kicked off its annual “Drive Clean” campaign and plans to give away a 2012 Ford Fusion Hybrid, donated by the Dallas Cowboys Football Club.
While industry contributes significantly to our state’s air problems, personal vehicles are also a major source of pollutant emissions. These rising emissions can cause us to lose billions of dollars in federal funds and more importantly, add to the rising costs of treating lung disease, one of the fastest-growing causes of death in the United States.
All of us share some accountability for worsening air pollution. Currently, nine Texas areas do not meet clean air quality standards: Austin, Beaumont-Port Arthur, Corpus Christi, Dallas-Fort Worth, El Paso, Houston-Galveston-Brazoria, North East Texas, San Antonio, and Victoria.
However, there are ways we can all chip in and do our part. Straight from the campaign website, here are five easy tips that collectively, can really make a difference in our Texas air quality:
1. Keep your vehicle in top shape. Proper and timely maintenance of your car or truck will conserve fuel and reduce emissions.
- Keep your car or truck engine well-maintained to lower exhaust emissions.
- Keep your tires properly inflated.
- Regularly change air and fuel filters and service air conditioning.
- Seal your gas cap tightly, refuel during late afternoon or evening, and don’t “top off” the tank.
- Lighten your load by removing roof racks and emptying your trunk of unnecessary weigh
2. Drive less. Reducing the number of vehicles on the road, especially during peak periods (rush hour), means less traffic and less exhaust.
- Combine your errands into only one trip.
- Carpool, vanpool, or ride public transit.
- Work an alternative/flex-time work schedule so you don't have to drive in congestion.
- Become a telecommuter or start a telecommuting program.
- Take a bicycle or walk when at all possible; it is good for your health.
3. Buy a "cleaner" vehicle. Help make the air healthier for yourself and others by considering the purchase of a fuel-efficient or low-emission vehicle such as a new, hybrid-electric car. For more information, visit www.fueleconomy.gov. Or, enter for a chance to win a new hybrid vehicle at www.DriveCleanAcrossTexas.org.
4. Drive the speed limit. At high speeds you'll burn more fuel per mile driven, thus creating more harmful pollutants in the air. It is safer to drive the speed limit, too.
- Accelerate and decelerate slowly and smoothly.
- Anticipate stops and coast to a stop gradually.
5. Reduce idling. Idling wastes gas. In fact, turning off the car and starting it again uses less gas than idling for thirty seconds or more.
- Park and go inside rather than using the drive-thru at the bank or fast food restaurant.
- Anticipate delays and take an alternative route to avoid stop-and-go or stand-still traffic… or travel earlier or later when congestion is less.
- After starting the engine, do not warm it up; modern engines do not need it.