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How to Spend Less Time on the Road This Winter

winter traffic jam
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Driving less often can have big benefits for you, your community, and the environment. You’ll spend less on gas, reduce wear and tear on your vehicle, and might even lower your insurance premium. Not only will you save money, but you’ll also reduce your carbon footprint and your risk of getting in an accident.

Winter is the most dangerous driving season. Icy roads, reduced visibility, shorter daylight hours–it all adds up to an increased risk every time you get behind the wheel. The season is also tough on cars, especially if you live in an area that frequently salts the roads.

Much of the conventional wisdom for driving less does not apply to winter–particularly not during a pandemic. Biking and ride-sharing, for example, simply aren’t workable solutions right now. However, there are still some easy ways to reduce your time on the road.

1. Plan Your Routes

Speed isn’t the only factor when choosing the best way to get to your destination. A maps app will typically offer you the fastest route, but it’s not necessarily the shortest–or safest. Plan your trips to avoid areas that you know tend to be congested. It’s also smart to skip routes with hills during bad weather, as that can make winter driving more dangerous.

2. Consolidate Errands

As you are planning, find a path that will allow you to knock out multiple errands in just one trip. For example, if you need to go to the bank, the grocery store, and the post office, find the best route to take care of everything in one trip.

Try to avoid too much backtracking as you run errands. If you tend to be a bit scatterbrained, make a list of everything you need to accomplish before you leave the house.

3. Get It Delivered

Although having packages and even groceries still puts someone on the road, delivery drivers typically make multiple stops on their routes. It still adds up to less total driving hours than if you ran the errands yourself. You might also save money by having groceries delivered, even after fees and tips, because you’ll make fewer impulsive purchases.

4. Designate a Driving Day

Choose one or two days a week that make the most sense for you to run errands. Perhaps Sunday afternoons and Tuesday nights make the most sense, or maybe you’ve got Monday and Thursday mornings free.

By intentionally limiting the number of days that you’ll be driving, you can significantly reduce your time on the road. Even folks who have a daily commute can benefit from limiting errands and “running around” to just two days a week.

5. Stay Home

There are a lot of compelling reasons to stay home right now–not just road safety. If at all possible, choose to stay home instead of going out.

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