More On Slow Driving

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Surprising Results.
I’ve been applying myself to the slow driving project, as inspired by a post at zenhabits. You can check it out here. Today the small revelation was that using the slow-driving method took me exactly the same time as my usual surface-streets commute.

This surprised me a little since a) I drive about 12 miles, and b) In the past I’ve done my fair share of weaving, engine gunning, strategic passing, and all kinds of less-than-genteel, impatient and unsafe driving habits, and I honestly thought that might reduce commute time. On one day, today, all that behavior just comes out in the wash. Same commute time. While I’m not sure about today’s result, my usual commute time is a very consistent 45 minutes.

Getting into numbers.
The math bug got to me again. I idly compute that regardless of how I drive my average speed is 16 m.p.h. That’s Los Angeles for you, given an 8 a.m. start. So you could average 35-40 miles per hour (while on a roll, so to speak) or average 25 miles per hour, but average commute speed is 16 miles per hour. That’s got to translate to some savings, right? What I’m curious about is whether the gas mileage will vary. I’m sheepish to admit just how curious! I suppose it’s a harmless diversion.

The psychology of the thing.
I have to admit it was satisfying pulling up next to the Prius at the stop signal, the one that zipped by me a few minutes earlier. We all end up at the same stop lights. If this result is consistent, it strikes me as another example of our desire to maintain an illusion of control over our lives. Road rage would be the result, then, of a false belief — namely that how fast we drive (on surface streets) makes much of an impact on arrival time. More sane measures, like allowing a reasonable amount of time for transit, leaving on time, are in order.

Dream within a dream.
I was in for a check-up yesterday. Just before my doctor said, “I’m going to check out your prostate now,” we were chatting about how Americans really don’t understand mortality. He noted that a tremendous amount of health care dollars are spent on the last 30 days of life, and high-tech treatments.

“You know, in Europe if you get lung cancer they just send you home.” I was a little shocked by that statement. And I certainly wouldn’t want to be sent home with lung cancer. But I think his point, that there are limits to what we can do, especially at an advanced age, is simply not something we want to hear. And this very strong desire to feel that we have control is at the root of it. We spend a lot of money to feel in control.

Less stress.
Of course, if you have to use the freeway your results may vary. I avoid it. On the freeway, going West towards Santa Monica, commute times would fluctuate wildly. Since I’m in a business (therapist) where showing up late would be highly frowned upon, I can’t afford to be late. The nice part about this slow driving is that I really am more relaxed during my drive.

The long drive.
Stepping back a bit, I think this whole debt reduction/frugality thing is a slow drive. What we are trying to do is put some steady, consistent habits into motion. Those sudden lurches, like paying off more debt than we can actually afford, can come back to haunt us.

Today I have a huge chunk of free time in the afternoon before my evening clients. I’m going to take a little R and R. Set out to the Century City AMC, with free movie pass in hand. I won’t be buying popcorn, but of course I will be driving slowly.

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One Response to “More On Slow Driving”

  1. El Niño Says:

    Kudos to you my friend. I have adopted all the zen habits listed in the zen blog and I gotta tell you it works. I live in Phoenix. The traffic here is fast and faster that’s it. Everybody’s in the left lane. Anyway, once i started implementing those habits… wait for the zinger here… 40+ mpg in a normal, run of the mill Toyota Corolla. Granted it is the 2007 model and it has been broken in about 16000 miles. But, i used to get about 30 – 32 mpg before the way I was driving. I’m a firm believer now. I have to recheck my figures the next time in order to ensure that I’m not dreaming. But it looks like real. 40+ in a corolla… The EPA estimate is not even close…!

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