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I was recently talking to a friend from college about car stuff and learned that they've been keeping a lot of data about their gasoline purchases. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I keep a lot of data too. And what do you do when you stumble upon two commensurate data sets? You chart them, of course! Everybody loves charts. :)
The strange thing about our driving habits is that we don't, much. Since I bought my new car in late 2005 I've averaged driving only 7.9 miles per day (2900 mi/yr), and that includes an 800-mile driving trip around Washington I took last year. My friend has averaged 18.6 miles per day (6780 mi/yr). The USDOE tells kids that the average American vehicle is driven 12,000 mi/yr.
My driving is dominated by very short trips, the worst kind of driving for fuel efficiency. But as I knew when I was researching vehicles to buy, this wasn't at all important to me because of how little driving I do — less than a quarter of what most people drive.
My car's window sticker says it's rated for 19mpg city and 27mpg highway. During my trip around Washington — the obvious spike on the graph — I averaged 25.7mpg, quite reasonable given that I was usually going faster than 55mph and was often in hilly areas. Other than that trip I've been fairly steady around 15mpg which doesn't disappoint me given the kind of "extreme city" driving that I do.
My very recent increase in driving (and in fuel efficiency) is due to several trips into Portland, which should be amusing to someone when they read this.
I can also compare Oregon and Iowa prices over the past two years:
And finally, just to make everyone jealous, here's a chart showing how long a full tank of gasoline lasts us:
I've had to omit some data points from that chart due to not always filling the tank completely full, or not waiting until the tank is almost empty before buying more gas. But yes, I really do buy gasoline less than once a month.