Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Cruising for speed on I-79

By Amanda Gillooly
O-R Staff Writer

In 2002, I was on a first-name basis with the state troopers that nabbed speeders on Interstate 79. Because I worked at an afternoon newspaper in Monessen, Pa., my shift generally began at 6 a.m., meaning I had to leave my humble abode in Neville Township at 5 a.m. Naturally, I slept until the last possible minute and then gunned it on the highway, averaging about 75 mph. And I kid you not: I think I got pulled over every week that year.

Lucky for me I was 22 and almost 50 pounds lighter back then, and by the grace of God, I was often wearing skirts and low-cut shirts on those occasions. With that and a dirty joke, I think I only got five or six tickets. But I am still paying the price for disobeying the traffic laws. Let’s just say I pay more for car insurance than an acquaintance who has two DUIs.

I’m not proud of my lead foot, but I am proud to say that $4-a-gallon gas prices have finally tamed it. I’ve had my Dodge POS – better known as a Neon – for three years, but I just recently learned how to operate my cruise control. And in a matter of weeks, I have gone from an aggressive, tailgating speed demon to someone who merely shakes their fist in rage at people who mess up my pace. Resetting the damn thing is just annoying.

I forced myself to make the change in order to improve my gas mileage, but I learned that the advantages of going to speed limit is a more relaxed 35-minute ride to and from work. I love not having to slam on my brakes when I see a cruiser sitting on the side of the road, and I don’t miss that knot in my stomach that clenches in anticipation of lights flashing in my rearview mirror.

Most of all, I must admit that I’m much calmer when I get to work these days, even though my pod mates can attest I’m still a basket case. But hell, cruise control can’t cure all my ills.


Scott Beveridge said...

So how much gas are you saving?

Mike Jones said...

That's what I was about to ask.

Anyway, I was talking to my roommate the other day about how slow I drive to work and he couldn't understand why. My point was that it's not like I'm in any hurry to get to work fast. I'll take my 61 mph thank you very much! And thanks for writing, Amanda. Your stories and writing are always interesting.

Amanda Gillooly said...

Scotty: I actually haven't crunched the numbers yet. But I do notice that I have to fill up less often. And I'm not getting any $145 tickets (knock on wood).
Jimmy: I didn't understand how you drove so slow, too. But I realized by looking at my GPS that when I gunned it, I only got to work 2 minutes earlier than I normally would have. Why risk so much for 2 minutes? I'm not down to 61 mph, I usually sitting pretty at 63 mph. And thanks for including you in your blog!!

Roger said...

Amanda, ... "crunch the numbers ...?" In my day, that used to be simple arithmetic: miles driven divided by gallons of fuel used.

Amanda Gillooly said...

I didn't have my odometer set. I did the math yesterday and realized I'm getting almost 40 miles to the gallon highway. Big improvement.