Tips for Driving Greener This Holiday Season

12/17/2010 11:22 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

'Tis the season for family, friends and road trips. AAA estimates that 42 million Americans will travel more than 50 miles by car this year on their way to holiday celebrations. As Americans pack up their cars and drive over the river and through the woods this winter, my colleagues at Ford Motor Company wanted to share some tips on how to drive more fuel efficiently. These tips can be used no matter what you drive or wherever the roads may take you and your families.

Slow down and watch your speed -- The EPA estimates you could see a 10-15 percent improvement in fuel economy by following this tip. Also, aim for a constant speed. Pumping the accelerator sends more fuel into the engine. Using cruise control whenever possible maintains speeds and conserves fuel.?

Accelerate and brake smoothly -- Accelerating smoothly from a stop and braking softly conserves fuel. Fast starts, weaving in and out of traffic and hard braking wastes fuel and wears out some of the car components, such as brakes and tires, more quickly.

Check your tires -- Keep the tires properly inflated. This can reduce the average amount of fuel use by 3-4 percent. Under-inflated tires increase rolling resistance and reduce fuel economy. They also wear more rapidly. Check the vehicle's door-post sticker for your vehicle's proper cold tire inflation pressure.

Be kind to your vehicle -- Maintain proper engine tune-up to keep vehicles running efficiently. Keep the wheels aligned. Wheels that are fighting each other waste fuel. Use a fuel with good detergent additives to keep the vehicle engine clean and performing efficiently. Consult your Owner's Manual for proper maintenance schedule and actions.

Travel light -- Avoid piling luggage on the roof rack. The added frontal area increases the aerodynamic drag and hurts fuel economy by as much as five percent. Remove excess weight from the vehicle. Unnecessary weight, such as unneeded items in the trunk, makes the engine work harder and consumes more fuel.

Close windows at high speeds -- Don't drive with the windows open over 50 mph. Driving with the windows open at highway speeds increases aerodynamic drag on the vehicle.

More information on eco-driving can be found at Ford's Driving Skills For Life web page.

Many people may not realize the way you drive and the shape you keep your car in can be important factors in increasing or decreasing overall fuel economy. With average gas prices expected to be above $3 across the country, every extra mile you get per gallon can save you money.

Even more important, please drive carefully, paying attention to road conditions and drivers around you to avoid accidents.

Buckle up, make sure kids are in proper restraints and avoid any driver distractions!

Wherever the road takes you this season, have a safe and wonderful holiday.