Vail Daily letter: High cost of driving |

Vail Daily letter: High cost of driving

Fred Schmidt
Vail, CO, Colorado

I recently saw an interesting yet disturbing statistic from two different and highly qualified sources. One was from the U. S. Department of Energy, and the other was from the National Renewable Energy Lab in Golden. Both articles talked about gas consumption and the price we are really paying above the pump price.

When we normally drive on the Interstate every day, we rarely think about gas consumption or the speed we drive. We only become concerned, even angry, at a filling station when we see the total price for that fill-up.

Simply being aware of the statistic to our benefit goes a long way in minimizing our gas consumption and thereby decreasing what we pay for gas overall.

First, statistics state that for every 5 mph over 60 mph we drive, we must add $.25 to $.29 a gallon to the price per gallon. We have to take into account a number of factors connected to this statistic, though, such as the price at the pump, the speed limits on the roads we travel, the mountainous geography, and how fast and how far we drive on the roads to be able to use this statistic effectively.

Now let’s create some reality around our statistic for those of us who live in the valley. At Corky’s in Eagle, gas is priced at $3.95 a gallon. Now let’s take several imaginary shopping trips from Eagle, since there is little retail shopping here, in our 20-miles-per-gallon vehicle to see what the cost results are using our Department of Energy statistic.

If we go to Glenwood Meadows in Glenwood Springs, a total round trip distance of 70 miles, it will cost $5.00 to go 26 roundtrip miles at 75 mph paying $4.80 a gallon, plus $7.90 to go 44 round trip miles at 60 mph paying $3.95 a gallon.

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Knowing that you must add almost $13 to your shopping or restaurant bill makes you start to look at this usual trip differently, don’t you think?

Remember, too, that Eagle is the eighth-most expensive place to live in the state,and with a poor economy and too many people with little or no work, it takes on even more meaning.

How about another shopping trip to the Outlets in Silverthorne, a roundtrip of 120 miles where 42 roundtrip miles at 75 mph costing $9.60 plus 78 round trip miles at 65mph costing $12.90 for a total of $22.50 added to the shopping or restaurant tab.

How about the more mundane roundtrips go to work in Edwards, Avon, or Vail from Eagle every day? To go to Edwards at 75 mph, it costs $7.20; to Avon, it costs $9.60; and to Vail, it costs $14.40 per round trip. All these calculations are approximate and stretch between town centers.

What if your vehicle gets less than 20 mpg? No wonder it costs so much to live here.

For all the talk of paradise, mountain playground, and how lucky we are to live here, we really do pay for that privilege.

So the next time you are on the road, think twice about how fast you are going no matter what the speed limit is for your wallet’s sake, personal safety sake, and to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Thanks for listening.

Fred Schmidt