• Wayne Conrad

Rethinking Energy

Updated: Oct 2, 2019

Part 3 - How we Drive is as Important as what we Drive

We live in a busy world and we always seem to be rushing somewhere in an effort to balance work, family, and recreation. Driving 90 km/hr instead of 120km/hr can save 42% on fuel even in fuel efficient hybrid cars, and would reduce the carbon emissions for the average vehicle by 10,355 kg, 22,781 lbs, 11.39 tons! There are about 22.182 million cars, SUVs and light trucks on the road in Canada. If we assume half the miles are highway miles, if we all drove 90 km/hr, our roads would be safer and we would save over 12.6 million tons of carbon emissions and our fuel bills would be cut by about 21%! We save money and help save the planet.


In 2015, Canada made a promise to the world that it would reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 30% below 2005 levels by the year 2030. Canada's total GHG emissions in 2017 were 716 million tons, so cutting our driving speeds from 120 km/hr to 90 km/hr would reduce Canada carbon emissions (GHG emissions) by about 12.6 million tons, in a single action! No new technology. No new taxes. Just a change of habit that saves us all money.


According to various sources, Canadians and Americans spend about 3% of their income on transportation fuel and drive about 20,000 km (12,000 miles) per year. Vehicles are a significant contributor to our energy use and to greenhouse gas emissions.

Many people drive from place A to place B as quickly as possible. However, speed has many downsides including reduced safety for you and others on the road as well as significantly reduced fuel economy.


The average Canadian spent about 25 minutes per day one-way commuting as of 2011 and gridlock has definitely gotten worse, especially for those heading into Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver, Calgary or any other large Canadian or U.S. city.

In recent research by Consumer Reports, the fuel economy of the seven vehicles tested changed significantly between 88.5 km/hr (55 mph), 104.6 km/hr (65 mph), and 120.7 km/hr (75 mph). The faster you drive, the more fuel you burn for the same trip.

Let’s say you are environmentally conscious and choose to drive a hybrid electric car. If, for example, you drive a Honda Insight, an amazingly fuel-efficient, hybrid-electric, five-door, five-passenger hatchback at 88.5 km/hr (55 mph), you would use 4.53 litres per 100 km which is a fuel economy of 51.9 miles per U.S. gallon. If you travel 20,000 km (12,000 miles) per year, you would burn 906 litres (239.7 gal) of gasoline.


Most of the gasoline sold in the United States and Canada is E10 which means that it contains about 10% ethanol fuel by volume. Burning 3.78 litres (1 U.S. gallon) of E10 produces about 8.04 kg (17.68 lb) of carbon dioxide emitted from the fossil-fuel content. That means that driving your fuel-efficient Honda Insight, or other vehicle with similar fuel economy, for a year at 88.5 km/hr emits about 7,284 kg (16,024 lb) of CO2 per year. If you drive this same car at 104.6 km/hr (65 mph), your fuel use increases to 5.35 litres per 100 km (44.8 mpg) and your vehicle annual CO2 emissions increase a significant 18.1% to 8,603 kg (18.926 lb). If you drive this same car at 120.7 km/hr (75 mph), your fuel use increases to 6.44 litres per 100 km (36.5 mpg) and your vehicle annual CO2 emissions increase a horrific 42.2% to 10,355 kg (22,781 lb)!


Simply put, driving 90 km/hr (55 mph) instead of 120 km/hr reduces your carbon footprint by over 42% and improves the safety of your journey. In practical terms, if your neighbor drives a pickup truck at 90 km/hr (55 mph) and you drive your environmentally friendly hybrid-electric vehicle at 120 km/hr (75 mph), you are both burning a similar amount of fuel and making an equal contribution to CO2 emissions.


How we choose to drive every day can be more important than the vehicle we choose to drive. Ideally, we choose an efficient vehicle and drive it wisely at 90 km/hr.

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