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August 18, 2011
A majority of Northwest Pacific drivers say they take steps to reduce the amount of gas they use, about eight out of 10 drivers in Washington and the greater Portland area say their fuel-efficiency practices are motivated by saving money, not the environment.
According to a PEMCO Insurance Northwest Poll, a survey of drivers across Washington and around the Portland metro area shows that about nine out of 10 put at least some effort into being fuel efficient, but just a fraction do so to reduce the amount of pollutants produced by their vehicle.
In the Portland area, 81 percent of drivers who consciously save fuel say they do so because they want to save money that they would normally spend filling up their gas tank.
“We were surprised to learn that even in the Pacific Northwest, where we have a reputation for being environmentally conscientious, cost still trumps being green,” said PEMCO spokesperson Jon Osterberg. “And with gas prices at record highs in some areas, drivers are certainly feeling the pinch.”
Today, a gallon of gas costs an average of $3.73 in Oregon, according to AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report, which is more than the national average of $3.59 for a gallon of regular unleaded.
To save on fuel, eight out of 10 drivers in Washington and Portland say they drive at a steady pace and avoid aggressive maneuvers on the road. About 60 percent proactively monitor their tires to make sure they have the right amount of air pressure, and about 40 percent make sure they’re not hauling excess cargo.
An additional 38 percent of Portland drivers say they avoid using their air conditioner to increase fuel efficiency, but according to Osterberg, drivers may be unnecessarily sweltering if they opt to turn off the AC.
“Though our mild summers may not demand it, air conditioning may not be as much of a fuel drain as some think. According to the auto experts at Edmunds.com, the drag created by traveling with your windows open burns just as much fuel as running your car’s AC,” Osterberg said.
The PEMCO poll also found that drivers above age 55 are most likely to take steps to reduce their gas usage compared with drivers under 35. Perhaps less surprising, drivers who say they would consider purchasing a hybrid or electric vehicle if they were in the market for a new car are also among those who are more likely to conserve fuel.
The poll results come on the heels of a major breakthrough in negotiations for higher gas mileage standards for automakers in the United States. President Obama and major auto companies recently announced that by 2025 overall fuel economy will double to 54.5 miles per gallon.