Time to Not-Rush

Superweek is one of the rare occasions when I have a lot of time to do nothing. It’s mostly just racing and resting. I’ve got plenty of time to get where I need to go, and I’m not in any hurry to get there.

Driving to the races, and I can feel the tension and hurriedness of the other drivers. I’m going the speed limit, exactly, and I’ve got moms in minivans tailgating me while talking on their cell phones, people passing on the right, passing in unsafe conditions. I see 18-wheelers going 10mph over the limit. Delivery vans and pickup trucks, blasting off from red lights and probably watching the gas needle fall in real-time.

Back at home I don’t notice this so much, because I’m often caught up in the same routine. But change the routine and it becomes apparent.

Everyone’s complaining about the current situation with oil. But we don’t seem to consider doing the simplest thing we can do: just slow down.

In my VW Passat, my fuel economy is at a minimum 15% better if I drive more calmly. Probably even more if I compare it to the way most people seem to drive normally.


Just imagine if we all made this one small change in behavior, how much of an impact it would have. Most people probably know this already. Why then are we unwilling to change? I suspect that we are caught up in this collective mindset of frantic rushing around. We never want to feel inconvenienced or delayed. It’s the same mindset that makes drivers unwilling to be slowed for a moment by a bicycle.

I think we need to ask the question: to where and to what are we hurrying?

I remember very clearly how this struck me one day. I was riding to work and feeling overwhelmed by the steady stream of cars impatiently trying to get around me on a local cut-through road.

I recall thinking that in the larger perspective it makes absolutely no difference whether or not I rush to get to work (or wherever I’m going). That mindset is self-created.

You can try this out for yourself. On your next trip to wherever you’re going, make a conscious decision to drive 5 mph slower than you normally would. When you finally arrive, ask yourself whether it made any difference that you arrived those few minutes later than you might have otherwise arrived (and often that frantic driving doesn’t even get you there faster).


Confession: I would have a problem driving 55 mph all the way to Wisconsin for Superweek. Keeping it at 72 or below is quite doable however 🙂


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2 responses to “Time to Not-Rush

  1. I’m 100% with you on this one! My Vibe is EPA rated at 32/26MPG (hwy/city). Over the last 7,850 miles I’ve driven, my Average Fuel Economy has been 35.14 MPG. Simply slowing down to the SPEED LIMIT along with accelerating and braking less agressively has been the difference. My driving is probably a 60/40 mix of hwy/city, so I’d say your 15% figure is right in line with what I’m seeing. To put it in perspective, I probably saved at least $150 in fuel costs along with extra wear and tear on my engine, tires, and brakes.

    I’ve found that all it takes is just leaving a minute or two earlier for work. I’ve gone from being one of those drivers who zoom around like a maniac to driving with the flow of traffic. Overall, it’s a hell of a lot less stressful too.

    Thinking about the extra TIME I would have to spend to take home that extra $150 along with the extra TIME spent filling up (saved at least 4 trips to the gas station), I’m coming out WAY AHEAD.


  2. Brian

    One of the funny things is, zooming around like a maniac often doesn’t get you there any faster. Driving home from the Shreve race a couple weeks ago, I remember a Jeep passing me outside of Shreve … probably going 70 in the 55mph zone. When I got to Wooster 10 miles later, I pulled up to a red light … and there was the Jeep right in front of me.

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