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Can smart driving campaign reduce greenhouse gases?

By dcuff
Thursday, July 14th, 2011 at 7:30 am in driving, global warming.

We’re from the government and we’re here to help you drive smarter and cleaner to reduce greenhouse gases. Can it work ? Can the Bay Area pioneer new gains in the climate change arena with a $4.5 million public education campaign to get motorists to slow down and change their driving behavior?   The Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the region’s transportation planning agency, is going to give a try. Click here and again here for stories about the MTC’s plan to use advertising, new software aps and interactive websites to encourage motorists to follow the 65 mph speed limit and take other fuel and emission reducing measures.  

MTC staffers cite a poll suggesting many Bay Area drivers would be willing to change their driving habits voluntarily to spare the earth even if a majority sharply oppose any suggestion of returning to the 55 mph federal limit on freeways.

Voluntary measures should not be overlooked in facing the difficult challenge of reducing greenhouse gases, MTC staffers and commissioners said. After all, they said, many people feel it’s impractical for them to ride public transit.

Some readers contacted me to express their opinion that the smart driving plan is a waste of money.

“It’s a feel good plan, but it doesn’t accomplish one thing,” said Douglas Bowlus, a retired accountant from  Burlingame. “There is nothing new being proposed that people don’t already know.”

People already have incentives not to speed because it saves money, avoid traffic tickets, and averts  the risk of dangerous and expensive crashes, Bowlus said.

An official with the American Lung Association of California, however, felt differently, saying she believes that people can change their driving habits if they realize how much difference it can make in reducing their carbon footprint.

Jenny Bard, the group’s regional air quality director,  wrote in an email  that she drives 55 mph on freeways to get better mileage and cut pollution. She said gets 40 miles per gallon in her 2001 Honda Civic.  “It’s something easy to do that can make a difference,” Bard wrote.

To avoid the wrath of fellow motorists, Bard said she installed a bumper sticker on her car that reads, “Drive 55, Save $$. I am getting 40 miles MPG.”

To be sure, though, Bard said she needs to leave earlier to reach her destinations on time.

(Driving a vehicle at 75 mph uses 40 percent more fuel and emits 35 percent more emissions than driving one at at 60 mph, according to the Bay Area Air Quality Management Distri

Share your ideas below on what you think of the two-year MTC campaign aimed at changing driving habits. Will it work? Is it worth doing?

And by the way, one reader wrote in a suggestion that motorists could slash their pollution if laws were changed to replace stop signs with “yield” signs at all but the busiest intersections.

“If the failure to heed a YIELD sign and proceed safely had the same strong legal force as now given to running a STOP sign, we could have a significant increase in smoothly flowing traffic without any loss of “safety” or accountability,” Duane Schroeder wrote in an email.





A car

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