Trips of less than 5 km do not allow your car or it’s components to warm up sufficiently to reach peak efficiency, especially in cold weather. This means using more fuel and creating more emissions.

Before you jump in your car to run a short errand, ask yourself if it really has to be done right now or can it wait for another time when it can be combined with other trips. The convenience of the car makes it easy to just do things immediately without really thinking about it. Shopping trips represent the second largest use of your car next to driving to work.

Here are some planning suggestions:

  • Plan your route: Consider your route carefully to avoid congested areas and consider alternatives. It’s often more efficient to drive a bit further and avoid heavy traffic.
  • Drive further first: Drive to the furthest destination first to allow the engine to warm up sufficiently.
  • Combine errands: Try “trip chaining,” or combining your errands into one circuit to avoid backtracking.
  • Timing is everything: Pick a convenient time to avoid rush hour and give yourself enough time so that you don’t have to rush. Racing to get things done will cause you to accelerate quickly and drive too fast, which can be costly and unsafe!
  • Use closer stores: Support your neighbourhood stores and restaurants rather than ones across town.
  • Try one-stop shopping: Many stores and shopping centers offer you the opportunity to get all of your errands done in just one trip. When you do park, consider finding a central location and then walk to each store.
  • Call ahead: Make sure of the store hours and product availability.
  • Shop and/or compare on line: Shop or price compare on-line. Shopping on line or using mail order can save you money and give you more time for the important things in life.

For those shorter trips, you might want to ask yourself whether walking, biking, or taking a bus would benefit you more! The ultra-convenience of the car may be holding you back from the rewards of active and public transportation. A 5 km bike ride is only about a 15 minutes for most people and you get the benefit of the exercise too. By using active transportation or public transit, you put in motion a healthier you, and keep more money in your pocket.