More Drivers Running Out Of Gas

April 23rd, 2011

Wow. Some people are in so much denial about gas prices, and not wanting to think about filling up, that they are simply driving until they run out of gas. This is a fantastic lesson in cognitive dissonance.

Think about this for a minute. If increasing numbers of people are in denial about their fuel gauges being on ‘E’, and ignoring the warning lights that come on during the final miles before their engines cut out, what else are they in denial about?

Via: CBS:

With gas prices pushing $4 a gallon, a lot of people are trying to stretch their dollar at the gas pump, but some of them are trying to stretch it a little too far.

Since the beginning of March, AAA has seen an 18 percent increase in the number of roadside calls for people running out of gas.

Related: U.S. Dollar

5 Responses to “More Drivers Running Out Of Gas”

  1. ideasinca Says:

    And yet, most of them speed up to a red light just to the point where they have to slam on the brakes, and otherwise waste a huge amount of gas just through the mindlessness of their driving. Almost as a game with myself, over the past three years or so I’ve experimented with momentum, gravity, and the thrills of coasting in neutral, and upped the gas mileage on my 15 year old car from about 21 mpg to more than 25 mpg — which adds up to an extra 26 mile round trip to town out of every tank of gas. It helps to be in a rural area with very little traffic and lots of hills, and to have a standard transmission, but, really, any idiot can take his foot of the gas when he sees a red light in front of him. You’d think. But I’ve always thought that any idiot could read a gas gauge, too — E is for “Empty” — so what do I know?

  2. Ann Says:

    It might be more than that going on. In certain metro areas around the country there are programs that bring drivers a gallon of gas if they run out on the highway. The last time gas prices spiked there was an epidemic of people running out of gas on the interstate in one part of California, and a lot of them were doing it to get the free gas.

  3. Mike Lorenz Says:

    “Think about this for a minute. If increasing numbers of people are in denial about their fuel gauges being on ‘E’, and ignoring the warning lights that come on during the final miles before their engines cut out, what else are they in denial about?”

    Over at the Oil Age forum, someone asked how how deep denial goes in humans. The answer was classic: “It is the only truly infinite resource”.
    – Mike Lorenz

  4. JWSmythe Says:

    I’m leaning towards to rational theories.

    1) People are having a hard time affording gas. I recently bought a used SUV, for the only real reason anyone should use one. The occasional trips that require carrying cargo that won’t fit in my car. It cost to fill the tank was about $80, and it was only down to about 1/8 tank. $80 is outrageous for 20 gallons (more or less). Luckly, the intended driving behavior will make that 20 gallons last an awful long time. So they’re hoping they can make the trip on what they have. On my car, I know it will go about 1/8 under the empty mark, but I’ve only ever seen that on long trips cross country, where I wasn’t aware that the next exit may be 100 miles away.

    2) People are dumb. Or more appropriately stated, “Never underestimate the power of human stupidity.” – Robert A. Heinlein

    Most people don’t realize that in a car with an electric fuel pump which resides in the tank (most modern cars), you really shouldn’t operate them often below 1/2 tank. The fuel coming from the return line is used as a coolant for the pump motor, as is the fact that the motor is sitting in a large heat sink (the tank full of gas) An almost empty tank results in overheating of the motor, and diminished capacity until it just doesn’t work any more.

    People are dumb. To them, empty doesn’t mean empty. It means “Oh, you can go another 100 miles”.

    The mixture of case #1 and case #2 above are most likely responsible for the increase of people running out of gas on the highway.

    As I recall the AAA agreement, they will provide 2.5 gallons, or as much fuel as it requires to get you to the next gas station. I doubt there’s a conspiracy to get free gas from them. It’s not worth sitting on the side of a highway for an hour or two, just to score about $10 in gas.

    I’ve only required AAA’s help with gas once. That was in a car I had just bought, and I wasn’t aware that the fuel gauge was horribly incorrect (it showed 1/2 tank when it ran out). That was the smallest problem on the list for that car, and it was returned to the dealer the day after I took possession of it.

  5. prov6yahoo Says:

    @JWSmythe
    Was that an American car that you had to return to the dealer? Chrysler?

    @ideasinca
    Yes, being an old-time lead foot, I am having to really concentrate on trying to improve mileage. I guess the easiest way to put it is to try not to use your brakes, i.e. coasting, trying to time lights, etc… Also saving brake shoes.

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