While people who drive out of necessity are understandably upset about high gas prices, the real enthusiast driver recognizes the positives. Artificially low fuel prices have subsidized an American automotive lifestyle out-of-sync with the needs and desires of serious drivers. And although we're not happy to be forking over the dimes for premium fuel, we've got five reasons the enthusiast is happy the era of cheap gas is over.
5. Less Congestion
Higher gas prices mean fewer people driving and more people taking public transit or telecommuting. The most obvious benefit for the real driver is that it opens up the road to those who travel for fun by removing those who merely commute out of necessity. This results in less traffic and, not surprisingly, fewer traffic fatalities, thanks in part to people keeping their Suburbans in the garage. Safer, emptier roads are something all drivers want, but real drivers need.
4. Better Cars
After years of racing to see who could build the largest vehicles, automakers are finally looking to see who can build more efficient vehicles. The technologically advanced Fisker Karma could only exist in the land of expensive gas, and the same is true for the beautiful and powerful Audi R8 diesel. The new Eco Elise not only gets better mileage that a stock Elise, it's also faster. Those are only a couple of examples. There's more on the way, if what Wert had to say at Popular Mechanics a couple months ago is any indication.
3. Better Roads
Owls aren't the only thing in danger of extinction. Cheap energy has meant more driving road-gutting sprawl, which leads to more stoplights and four-lane freeways. Most drivers have had the experience of pulling up to their favorite stretch of asphalt only to find a CVS and a lighted intersection suddenly under construction. Thankfully, the price of commuting is pushing families to move back into the cities and encouraging developers to focus on density with their new projects and leaving the remainder of great driving roads alone and safe from earth movers.
2. Cheaper Insurance
Assuming you become one of those people that takes the train or bus to work, you can adjust your insurance classification to "pleasure driver," which has the dual benefits of sounding awesome and saving you money. Depending upon your current insurance level, you could end up saving 10% to 15% on your premium. That's more money you could put into gas, tires, oil and everything else you need to enjoy the newly emptied roads.
1. Fewer Fatties
According to one economist's doctoral thesis, a $1 increase in the price of gas equates to a 10% decrease in the obesity rate, as people dine out less and walk/bike more. While this has a few boring side effects — fewer health-related deaths and lower health care costs, for example — the benefit to the driver is that your co-pilot is less likely to add sprung weight to your car. We're pretty sure it's the same reason Colin Chapman became a vegan and John DeLorean made sure all his women were coked-out anorexics.