Monday, April 14, 2008


I'm on the road for work yet again. This time it's a 6.5 hr trip by myself. As I drove across the state I rediscovered and made good friends with cruise control. I have this feature on my car but I don't think I've used it once in the 1.25 years I've owned it.

In general cruise control isn't a good option if you're trying to be frugal. When you're going down a hill cruise control will brake to keep you exactly at your given speed. Yesterday I noticed it applied a light but steady pressure from the brake any time I went downhill. Going up hills it over accelerates to keep you at the given speed. When I'm in control I don't always stay at top speed to get up a hill and usually let gravity do most of the work going down, occasionally tapping on the brakes. So by using cruise control I'm consuming more gas and wearing out the breaks faster.

All that said the only things more valuable on my drive yesterday were dotted lines* and the CD's I brought along. The drive was a series of mountain passes and long straight highways** through the valleys. The twists and turns up and down the mountains were fun. But at hour three, when my foot was becoming increasingly heavier and the farm/ranch lands were becoming monotonous cruise control helped keep me from making an even bigger frugal mistake- getting a speeding ticket.

*I grew up in a major metro area. In driver's ed when they taught us about passing (dotted) lines I remembered thinking when on earth am I ever going to use this knowledge. The answer, 10 years later when you're stuck behind a car going 15 miles under the speed limit and you are ready to be in your hotel bed.
**If you can call a road with one lane each way a high way.

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