Five Good Things About High Gas Prices

Illustration for article titled Five Good Things About High Gas Prices

High gas prices suck, right? Wrong. There's actually a silver lining that only the in-market car consumer boys at Edmunds Inside Line are able to see. They put together a list of five good things about the increasingly higher cost of gas that we've refined and edited below.

1. High gas prices help you get in shape. Basically, rather than commute, you can find several short trips to walk rather than drive. That'll help you out not only because you'll lose some weight, but also you'll save more gas than skipping one long trip because short trips eliminate the most wasteful cycle — when the engine's not warmed up. That's when it gets poor fuel economy and emits higher levels of emissions.

2. High gas prices help you learn how to drive efficiently. A key to higher fuel economy is efficiency of driving. High gas prices give you an opportunity to learn the right way to drive smoothly. When you're already going 65 mph, it doesn't make sense to floor it just because there's an opening in traffic and you don't like staring at the back of the Prius in front of you for a net gain of two car lengths. Especially when you realize you're blowing through a quarter's worth of gas every time. Cut back on that a few times in the morning and afternoon commute and we're talking a serious cut in your gas cost. Plus, one speeding ticket could cost more than four tanks of gas.

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3. High gas prices help extend your life. Stress kills and aggressive driving, traffic tickets and accidents all add to stress. Also, those accidents can sometimes kill. Forcing yourself to drive slowly, smoothly and with greater care cuts back on your stress, and will add years on to your life.

4. High gas prices help you get more work done. True car guys know that appliance commuting isn't true driving freedom, so try and use mass transit whenever possible — like when you're going to and from work. While on the train, bus or ferry, get some more work done in a safer environment. Read a book, study for a test, answer your emails. Whatever you want. The world is your oyster when you commute.

5. High gas prices give you a new excuse for not doing things. Don't want to visit that ex-roommate from college? Your Aunt in Toledo? Your father's brother's nephew's cousin's former roommate? Now you finally will have the perfect excuse: "Gee, I'd love to hang out but these gas prices are killing me."

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DISCUSSION

kaisermachead
kaisermachead

Well, ultimately, gasoline is a dead end fuel source for cars anyway, unless of course, some fantastically efficient means of synthesizing more without the necessity of drilling is somehow developed. Obviously this will mean that our favorites from the past will be quickly obsolesced when we're forced to eventually move over to whatever alternative supplants gas, but those are the breaks when it comes to technology. Admittedly, most of us may not actually live to see the time when scarcity starts to bite down hard on the IC and turbine engines, but I feel it's still an inevitability.

But as far as gas prices are concerned, there doesn't seem to be any real positives here. Anything that has to do with health and exercise is more a matter of personal responsibility. If you weren't willing to be more active on foot when gas prices were low, I doubt you're suddenly going to "see the light" when you're paying more at the pump.

Driving in such a manner to save fuel is a lot like counting calories. Not everyone can be bothered to dedicate any attention to really keeping an eye on the meter every time they hit the road. And of course, those with more expensive cars can probably afford to pay a bit more anyway, and their habits may not change at all.

Traffic accidents will probably be unchanged, partly for the reason above. People won't just have some widespread change in habits, nor will aggression be reduced. I doubt there would be any significant drop anywhere as a result of higher gas prices.

People may not be willing to take their car to visit people, but they'll still try to find a way to do so. If I wanted to visit a relative or friend, gas prices are not going to stop me. If it was so prohibitively expensive to take the car, I am going to find some other way to get there.

None of these things strike me as real positives. The only GOOD thing that may result of gas prices going up would be a more urgent look into alternative fuel sources, which I said will probably be an inevitability, but beyond that, for all other considerations, it seems to be more a hindrance than a benefit.