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With gas prices across the country soaring and everyone still feeling the effects of the economic recession, many of us are taking a second look at our travel routines to figure out where we can cut back to avoid that hit at the pump. While simply staying at home, carpooling, and using alternate transportation methods definitely help keep the costs in check, they also might imply changes that aren’t easily implemented. But there is one way to save on gas that is easy to implement and definitely in our own best interest: drive more safely.

The fact is that many tips on increasing fuel efficiency actually mirror the most basic safety habits that you can adopt as a driver to avoid accidents:

Drive sensibly. Aggressive driving habits such as speeding, rapid acceleration, and hard braking are all things the decrease fuel efficiency. In fact, your gas mileage can decrease by up to 33% just because of aggressive driving.

Observe the speed limit. Although every vehicle has an optimal speed for achieving the best fuel efficiency, in general, gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds over 60 mph. Think of it this way: for every 5 mph that you drive over 60 mph, you pay an extra $0.24 per gallon for gas.

Keep your tires properly inflated. Properly inflated tires are safer and will last longer. You’re less likely to experience a blowout and tires with good traction are crucial to safe driving on wet or slippery roads. Having properly inflated tires can also improve your gas mileage by up to 3.3%.

Make sure you car is properly maintained. Unexpected break downs on the road can create safety hazards. So making sure you engine is tuned and all your cars fluids are at the appropriate levels is key to safety on the road. But it also helps with the gas mileage. Fixing some serious maintenance problems can improve mileage by as much as 40%, and using the right kind of oil in your car can give you another 1 or 2 % increase in your mileage.

Taking good care of your car, and more importantly, taking good care of yourself by driving safely, can really pay off in the long run. And in the short run, you’ll save a few bucks on gas.

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