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The constant need to fuel your car and the emissions that doing so releases into the air can be incredibly frustrating for motorists, and more so, those that are eco-conscious. With the focus slowly shifting towards zero emission cars, there is hope on the horizon for those of us sinking significant portions of our paychecks and social conscience straight into the gas tank. The truth is, however, not every one can afford to buy a new fuel-efficient automobile, and if we can, the payout or reimbursement certainly isn’t immediate. For the time being, there is one prime option that those of us looking to help our wallet and the environment can take. That option is a three-letter acronym that most of us use, not in terms of less fuel usage, but for getting somewhere on the fastest way possible. Although it might not be via the fastest route, as it turns out, your GPS may just help you use less gas in your travels.

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Digitization is running rampant and unchecked. We aren’t very far from a world set on a Tron grid. That’s not to say that we don’t take great things from technology, and in the case of the growing demographic of environmentally conscious motorists who want to save gas and money, this new wave of GPS technologies is working to eliminate road waste.

How Eco-Routing GPS Works

While traditional GPS tracking takes into account variables such as average speed, location and traffic conditions, “Eco-Routing,” offers a different, and perhaps, more attractive approach for the eco-conscious motorist. Fuel management systems by Qualcomm take into account other factors that affect gas millage, such as hills, curves in the road, frequent stops (traffic lights and signs), and traffic on the roads you travel. In its calculations, the GPS module that sits in the vehicle weighs the aforementioned factors to ultimately suggest the route that will not necessarily get you to your location fastest, but use the least amount of gas and subsequently release the fewest emissions in the air. For instance, a route that has a lot of uphill travel will likely be discarded due to its gas guzzling nature. A winding road with a lot of curves will likely be excluded as well. And finally, roads with congested traffic and a plethora of stoplights and signs will be left out of your travels. This is due to the starting and stopping, along with idle time that makes your engine eat up gas quickly. Interestingly enough, traveling even the slowest road does not necessarily maximize gas efficiency. Once your car is in its highest gear, it has reached its optimal fuel-efficient speed. For most cars that means any speed faster than around 55 MPH is no longer optimal for fuel efficiency.

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Photo: Fuel Nozzle with Dollars via Shutterstock

Using Enterprise Tech For Everyday Savings

Businesses have to worry about a bottom line, but so do you. Many of the techniques that huge shipping companies use to save themselves fuel and please shareholders can be employed by regular people trying to navigate the turbulent waters of gas prices in a stagnant economy. Starting in 2009, Garmin began building an Eco-Route option into their units. The general consensus is that while Eco-Route saved gas, it often took the driver on longer routes. Not a bad give and take, provided you are not a perpetually late person and can plan for the extra time. GPS systems also have a live traffic feature which can detect congested areas and possible routes around, saving not olnly gas burned during idle but heartache as well.

But what about the other percentage of drivers without a GPS? Since 2009, there has been an uptick in the amount of hybrid, electric and otherwise fuel-saving cars on the road and that number is expected to increase. Not only will that significantly reduce the financial burden of higher gas prices, but it will also help reduce the over 1 billion tons of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere each year.

GPS tracking may suggest the slower route, but what’s more, it will help the environment and save you some bucks at the same time. Whether you are an everyday commuter, own a fleet of vehicles, or both, using eco-conscious GPS tracking may change the way you drive your vehicle(s) while we all wait for the day when we can buy a zero emission car.