How to Drive Efficiently on the Streets

This is the next building block that comes after my tips on driving efficiently on the freeway/highway. I’m trying to share everything I know to transform driving from a wound up, stressful experience to an efficient and relaxing one.


After driving in Los Angeles all my life, one of the most congested cities in the world, it wasn’t until I started riding my bicycle on the streets that I realized how inefficient drivers (including me!) were generally behaving on the streets.  When I would be on my bike, I caught on really quickly that if I were coming up to a RED light, there was no need to pedal anymore.   I could simply stop pedaling and coast toward the intersection.  Why waste energy pedaling up to a red light?  So that I could arrive at the intersection faster only to come to a stop?

Funny enough, as I would coast toward a red light, cars would pass me and I could clearly hear their engines often accelerating toward the intersection as if they were blind to the fact that they have to brake very soon.  When I hopped back into my car, I realized that many of these cycling concepts are directly translatable to improving gas mileage and efficiency!

Why rush to this red light? You’re just getting in a line to get into another line. We’re all in the same boat.

1. It’s all about Average Speed, not “Top” speed

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2.  Your car uses the most fuel going from 0-25mph, so minimize the number of stops.

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3. Stop following others like sheep and look BEYOND the car in front of you!

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4. Learn to Coast.

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5. Slow down!  Consistently Drive at 35mph.  (Not 40-50mph in a 35!)

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An incredible side effect of driving efficiently: Less encounters with police officers

If you limit yourself to 55-60mph on the freeway and 35mph on the streets, you’ll never get a speeding ticket and you won’t give any reason to attract officers attention.  Cops are trained to notice people who are speeding.  You are literally invisible to them if you are a slow poke, obeying all the lights and just moseying along in the slow lane.

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tl;dr: SLOW DOWN.

These little things add up to make a big difference in smoothing out your entire ride.  Leaving some distance from the car in front of you and looking ahead to time the lights makes everything smoother, literally.  And don’t forget simple things like making sure your tires are properly inflated! (They probably aren’t and are reducing your fuel efficiency probably.)  If you enjoyed this article, check out the one about driving efficiently on the freeway!

  • Phil Gapp

    Number three is my favorite. The best thing my father taught me when I learned to drive was a racer’s most important skill; look into the corner. By looking ahead it is so simple to predict what other traffic will do, time getting through lights, and obviously preventing re-end crashes (or any others!).

    Additionally (and I’d love to study this further), a friend once completed a project which proved that by leaving space between cars in rush hour merging becomes much more fluid, and traffic would actually flow! Now how can we get every driver to understand that and practice it?

    Thanks for your article, it sounds just like something I’ve wanted to write for quite a while :)

    • Antranik

      Thanks for your thoughts, Phil. Actually, for a long time I’ve been wanting to make a video that *proves* that leaving more space would help coax out the stop/go and make it more fluid-like. Unfortunately, by the time I get to doing that, I think self-driving cars will be the norm and they will naturally be able to have efficient driving styles that will maximize fuel efficiency and reduce brake and engine wear for all!