How We Can Help Reduce Car Emissions

In this country, driving a car is the single greatest contribution we each make to pollution, according to the Environmental

In this country, driving a car is the single greatest
contribution we each make to pollution, according to the
Environmental Protection Agency. It’s ironic, then, that
there are more vehicles registered in the United States
than there are licensed drivers.

We Americans are never going to stop driving. Not only is it
essential to our way of life, but we truly do love our vehicles
and being out on the open road. Without question, though, we can drastically reduce car emissions and foreign-oil dependency.

Think about your household. How many vehicles do you
really need? Does each adult in the household need a car?
More to the point, does each teenager? Do you own a car that
you almost never drive? Creating a household transportation
plan reduces emissions and your contribution to the country’s
dependence on Middle Eastern oil. Here are some ideas to keep
you moving with less.

1. Choose your cars based on your household’s total driving
rather than on each driver’s personal preferences. For
example, a family might share one or two small cars for going
back and forth to work, school, or the store and have one larger
vehicle for family trips or carrying large loads.

2. Check out the car-sharing services in your town. These services
give you access to a car when you need it, but when you
don’t, someone else can use that car.With a “lending library”
of cars parked throughout the area, sharing a vehicle doesn’t
have to be any less convenient than owning one. Check out to find out what’s available in your area —
whether rural or urban. Or try carpooling. You’ll get home
even faster when you’re cruising in the HOV lane.

3. Sell extra cars. If you’ve been hanging on to a second or
third vehicle for those rare occasions when you truly “need”
it as a spare or for carrying cargo, reconsider your position.
Think of the money you’ll save on insurance, registration,
parking, and maintenance by renting a car a few times a year
instead. Or get the neighbors together to buy a “community”
pickup truck for heavy cargo needs, then stick with a fuelefficient
vehicle the rest of the time.

4. Drive a hybrid. These amazing cars come with huge tax
incentives from state and federal government bodies, save you
tons on gas, and can cut emissions by half. Go to to look up all the incentives available to you.

5. Avoid buying an SUV. Sport utility vehicles are attractive
and popular, but if you’re interested in safety, they aren’t good
choices. The sense of safety and security driving an SUV may
give you is often deceptive. SUVs are prone to rollovers, in
which the occupants are three times more likely to be killed
than are occupants of cars, and collisions of SUVs and cars
account for the majority of fatalities in vehicle-on-vehicle accidents.
Plus, with far fewer miles to the gallon, SUVs guzzle gas
and foreign oil, cost more at the pump, and emit far more toxic
emissions into the air than traditional cars.

6. Bike to work. Toxic vehicle emissions and human obesity
rates are skyrocketing, but you can reduce air pollution — and
your waistline — by bicycling to the office. Any cyclist will tell
you biking is fun and healthy and makes parking a dream.
National Bike to Work Week is May 15–19. Take advantage of
the warmer weather and extra daylight and give cycling a shot
next May — or sooner!

7. Take public transportation. Hopping on the subway or bus is
a great way to avoid the stress of traffic and the noxious carcinogens
you breathe while sitting in gridlock. When you’re
on the train or bus, you can read the newspaper or catch up on
paperwork on the way to work, saving you time. Besides, walking,
even just to and from the station or bus stop, is a great
way to start your morning.

Whether the goal is to reduce the number of weekly trips
made by car, get a more efficient and safer car, or take the
plunge and go car-free, each of us can make a big difference by
streamlining our transportation choices.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest