Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Sunday Drive

You may be interested in this article if...

  1. You HATE your commute to work
  2. You are a new driver and/or owner of a car
  3. You live in a densely populated city
The Sunday drive is an old part of North American auto tradition. It is defined as a small trip in a car with no intended destination that is undergone for pleasure alone. This was very popular in the early '20s because in those days the car was used less out of necessity and more for leisure. It was a family activity, a romantic getaway, or even a chance to adventure places you've always wanted to. So much like the country that lifted it to fame, the auto mobile was full of opportunity. Henry ford himself was an early supporter of the Sunday drive for obvious reasons. However despite what the Sunday drive has meant to North Americans in years past it is quickly fading from our lives.

Economically minded individuals feel that the Sunday drive is a waste of time and gas - which has risen in price significantly over the past few decades from $0.40 per litre in 1979 to $1.09 per litre in 2011 - and would rather spend both elsewhere. Environmentalism and Social Activism have also become more popular among many modern young adults who feel that burning gas for the purpose of recreation is environmentally irresponsible and that using a privately owned vehicle over public transportation is socially irresponsible not to mention financially stressful. Furthermore, many dislike getting behind the wheel unless it is absolutely necessary because cars are associated with dreary office hours, sluggish or stressful commutes, and taxing trips to supermarkets. We use our cars everyday to perform mundane tasks and as a result a large number of North Americans feel that it is nothing more than an appliance to be purchased to fill needs and be as practical as possible. Almost half of Canadians feel this way about their cars and the numbers for the US are only slightly lower. America is the place where the auto mobile became famous and beloved by all, but has our love dwindled from newly wed passion to older couple frustration? Whatever the case, we could use some relationship counselling.

Although it may be crude to compare our relationships with autos to marriage, there is no doubting the similarity between our situation and those of couples in marriage counselling; both are slightly sensational and irrational, being difficult at times to feel positive about, but neither will consider something as serious as a divorce. Surrendering the auto mobile is something that just doesn't sit well with North Americans, and for good reason. The auto mobile represents a personal freedom that most North Americans feel passionate about protecting and serves as a right of passage for teenagers about to taste independence for the first time. The car is also an iconic representation of our personalities and identities. Additionally, It provides flexible and relatively reliable transportation that makes us feel in control of our lives. Lastly, they have been our loyal inanimate companions for over 100 years and take a well deserved place within our cultural heritage that would be painfully empty otherwise.

One day the auto mobile will be a thing of the past, but not today and certainly not tomorrow. We really are in this together and despite society's concerns about the shortcomings of our modern - and sometimes not so modern - cars they are all we have and instead of getting caught up in sensational talks about what's wrong with driving our cars we should spend a little more time getting caught up with what's right about driving our cars. Some of you may remember embarking on Sunday drives with your parents as a child that may have ended with ice cream, or pissed you off because you were torn away from MSN and facebook. But the fact remains that they certainly were afternoons that we will remember for a long time. More likely you remember how you felt when you first bought your car and fell in love with the freedom from your daily grind and the notion that you could simply drive off with the sun at your back if life became too stark. These memories and fantasies are no less appealing, and no more impossible than they were when we drove our cars off the lot. The fact of the matter is that we love our auto mobiles, we've just forgotten why, and Sunday is a great day to remember.

Although I don't aim to discourage anyone who is truly devoted to Environmental or Social activism, I do wish to encourage anyone who already owns a car to fully appreciate the benefits of recreational driving. Below is a list of tips for econo/enviro/socio minded individuals that help to unload some guilt from the Sunday drive so there is more room for fun. Some of these tips are also parts of the Sunday drive that make it so fun and relaxing to begin with.

Tips for driving with more environmentally responsibly:
-You've heard it 100 times before: take care of your car
-Keep the air pressure at the correct level to reduce rolling resistance ( under inflated tires drain 6% more fuel  than properly inflated tires at the same speed )
- Drive in the highest gear at the lowest speed without the engine struggling ( lower rpm means fewer explosions taking place burning less fuel and a high gear means that the energy netted from those explosions goes the farthest )
- Plan your route ( getting lost is fun but if you're worried about burning too much fuel on your trip plan a route that meets your fuel to fun ratio )

Tips for driving with more social responsibility:
- Bring your friends or family along with you or be brought along on someone else's drive
- Plan a social activity that you can do while out and about like a picnic or teaching a younger member of the group how to drive

Tips for driving with more Economic responsibility:
- Use websites like to find the cheapest gas en route
- Invite someone else along and use their car instead

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