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Car Driving Tips (From The Five Minute Money Manager)

In a continuing series, what I am trying to do with the Five Minute Money Manager is to show you ways that you can impact your personal economy by taking up very little time. Most can be done in five minutes or less. A great deal of them involve changing our behaviors, and a behavior that is very near and dear to a lot of us is…driving aggressively.

Who, Me?

I think that a lot more of us are guilty of this than we are willing to admit. But if you get right down to it, we all know who we are. We’re the ones who think that 55 mph is just a suggestion, the ones that change lanes on the road like we’re stunt drivers, and the ones that insist on blowing past the guy we think isn’t driving fast enough even though we’ll both roll up to the next stop light at the same time. We may also think that our time spent driving is a great time to get caught up on emails from our Blackberry, texting our friends, and anything else we can think of.

The Numbers

A very quick Internet search yielded these sobering numbers regarding your money and safe driving:

  • Your fuel economy can decrease by as much as 25% when you drive at 75 mph rather than 55 mph.
  • Auto accidents cost every American an average of $1,000 per year.
  • A typical DUI now costs just about ten thousand dollars.

Slow Down

Let’s dig into these numbers for a minute. Even I was shocked by a few of these. Based on my own experiences, I found that driving at 65 mph decreases you gas mileage by about 10%. 70 mph takes it up to 17%, and at 75 mph, your gas mileage can go down by as much as 25%. Look at this example. You have a 20 mile commute to work, mostly on the freeway. Your car gets 20 miles per gallon. That would mean that you could save approximately $650 annually by driving the speed limit rather than at 75. And for those of us that drive faster than 75, the decreased fuel mileage goes off the charts.

Pay Attention

Auto accidents cost you money personally, whether you have them or not. Even if it’s not you getting into the accidents, other people’s accidents will lead to higher insurances rates for all as the insurance company needs to offset these accidents with higher rates for everyone. If you happen to have had accidents in the past, the costs extend far beyond just your insurance. Don’t forget about out-of-pocket medical expenses, property damage, lost productivity at work, any medical injuries, and a decreased quality of life. At first I thought this $1,000 sounded too high, but when you factor everything in, it is probably about right.

Drinking and Driving? Forget About It

This topic should simply be a no-brainer. And this is regardless of whether you’re single or married, kids or no kids, the financial aspects of it, or the safety aspects. This country has made getting a DUI incredibly expensive, for a very good reason. They are trying to deter these people. Call a cab, call a friend, do whatever…it’s just not worth it. Life is too valuable.

I did not spend any time on how to drive safely. This was only meant to point out to you how much some of your unsafe driving practices may be costing you. If you don’t drive safely, I am quite sure you know what to do to become a safe driver. For what it’s worth, most auto insurance companies will offer a discount if you complete a defensive driving course. That’s something to consider.

Unsafe driving probably costs you a lot more than you think. I was floored when I saw the stats on what speeding does to your gas mileage. If you think you’re doing all you can to save money in your everyday life, take five minutes to objectively review how safely you drive and you may uncover a whole new area in which to positively impact your personal economy as well as those around you.

Comments?  Feedback?  Feel free to share with us below.

David Bakke
David started his own personal finance blog, YourFinances101, in June of 2009 and published his first book on ways to save more and spend less called "Don't Be A Mule..." Since then he has been a regular contributor for Money Crashers. He lives just outside Atlanta, GA and most all of his free time is taken up by his amazing three year old son, Nicholas.

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