Despite your best efforts to hit the highway early to avoid holiday or summer traffic (and curb your carbon emissions!), things didn’t go exactly as planned. Now what? Take the back roads instead of idling in traffic, says Robert Sinclair, Jr., of AAA New York.
“Vehicles in traffic that aren’t moving or are moving slowly spew pollutants and progress very little, resulting in lots of pollution per distance traveled,” he says. Plus, idling can waste a half gallon of gas per hour–which equals about 15 miles of driving, according to the Environmental Defense Fund.
Have a hybrid? Its engine stop-start technology (when the car shuts off after stopping, then restarts when driving resumes) gives it a slight advantage in traffic over traditional cars, but still–after a while, the engine has to come back on to recharge the battery and power the lights, radio, and GPS, says Sinclair.