What is the most scientific way to optimize your driving time?

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You know how much gas is in your car, your average miles per gallon, and your road speed. And you want to get from your home to your destination as quickly as possible, as efficiently as possible. Does speeding actually work?

If you are driving a 2012 Bugatti Veyron Super Sport, fuel efficiency is worthless to you. But for the rest of us making 300 to 1000 mile holiday journeys to and from families in our norm cars (Nissan Xterra for the win, it's the only car that sounds like it could be a member of X-Force) this holiday season, here are a couple of tips that could help.


Top image from MP_CC via shutterstock.

The optimal speed for your car

Across car types, the ideal speed for one's car is between 55 and 60 miles per hour. There will be slight variants based on the type of car (SUV vs. aerodynamic Sedan), but this speed is a good starting point across car types. For every 5 miles per hour over 60 mph, fuel efficiency decreases by approximately 8 percent, with this decrease in efficiency compounding with a further increase in velocity.


During the 1970s, the United States changed the interstate speed limit to 55 miles per hour, not out of a desire to increase safety, but to increase fuel efficiency by the Nixon Administration during the Energy Crisis. A proposed movement to alter current speed limits to 55 mph (89 kph) would save one billion barrels of oil a year due to increased fuel efficiency at lower speeds, decreasing our transportation fuel usage by 13%.


How much time do you save by speeding?

Let's say the speed limit is 70 mph (113 kph) and you have a 280 mile interstate journey ahead of you. You'll drift to 85 mph at some points when the road ahead is open and no state troopers are around, drop back down to 60 mph in construction zones, and move to 70 mph because of the idiot doing two miles above the speed limit in the fast lane.


For the sake of argument, let's say your average speed over the trip is 78 mph (126 kph) – eight miles above the limit in most states. You just risked a ticket, probably spent the last 3.6 hours of your life stressed out and paranoid, and killed your car's fuel efficiency to spend 24 extra minutes with your relatives - time that will likely be spent sitting in front of a television watching Storage Wars. You're a winner (in the game of life)!

If you take the national average for a gallon of low grade gasoline, $3.29, into account, along with a 12.8% percent decrease in fuel efficiency from driving the 70 mph speed limit, you just spent $4.51 for the privilege of spending those 24 minutes in expanded basic cable hell.


Give me my money back

Give me my five bucks, less stress, the lack of speeding tickets, and 24 minutes of quiet time any day over a furious race to the finish line. Without taking safety considerations into account, driving a little slower helps the environment, saves a little money, and keeps you from being trapped watching expanded basic cable while you are on smart phone probation in your parents' house.


Images from Shutterstock, CC sources, and Wayne State University. Sources linked within the article.