A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Think of all that fuel going to waste

Written July 8th, 2022 by Hasso Hering

When the northbound freeway looks like that, you’re glad you’re going south.

The first thing that comes to mind when you see a massive traffic jam is how much fuel is being wasted here.

You may have other worries too if you’re caught in stop-and-go traffic that lasts for many miles, as it did on I-5 northbound near Glendale on Friday afternoon.

For instance: Am I going to run out of gas? What if somebody gets sick, or has to use a restroom? How long is this slowdown anyway? Will I have to spend the night in my car?

On TripCheck, ODOT reported at 4 p.m. Friday that a commercial truck crash had closed the right-hand lane near milepost 80 but the fast lane was open and there was little or no delay. But about an hour before, there was a great deal of delay as the line of trucks and cars snaked for several miles to the south.

I-5 is the main artery for commerce and travel in western Oregon. From Salem south to the California line, most of it is two lanes in each direction. So when something happens, like a truck overturning on one of the sharp curves in the mountainns between Canyonville and Grants Pass, traffic stops.

It can’t be helped. There are no detours.

So that’s when the waste of fuel comes to mind. All that $6-a-gallon diesel oil being burned without going anywhere fast. All that equally expensive gasoline going out through thousands of exhausts. (hh)

The result of a commercial truck crash on I-5 northbound near Glendale on Friday.

9 responses to “Think of all that fuel going to waste”

  1. Bob Bush says:

    What restrooms….????

  2. John Hartman says:

    Apparently the current price of fuel is not a deterrent to the American obsession with driving. There are several right here in Albany who, to this day, go out and start-up their car to “warm it up,” and they let the vehicle idle for 10-minutes or more…all on a warm summer morning. So, it seems the current price of gas is no deterrent on wastefulness.

  3. TLH-ALB1 says:

    Drive like Mad Max…or waste fuel…it’s really quite that simple.

  4. centrist says:

    I was in that tie-up coming back from Rogue River. We moved along at idle-speed with only brief stops until after the heavy tow rigs passed on the shoulder. The wreck was on its side with lots of skid marks. I wished them well and moved on.

  5. Al Nyman says:

    Not having automated traffic lights wastes as much energy and it is fixable. How often do and others sit at a red light and not one car is moving?

  6. Adam says:

    From what I can tell gasoline and diesel are still too cheap. I traveled up to Portland the other day on Interstate 5. I was doing 70 MPH and was passed by 75% of the vehicles on the road (including semi’s). In town there is no shortage of cars and pick-ups racing around especially at traffic lights. Heck, I even see them revving their engines at the lights.

    The last time we had a gas shortage and high prices “we” implemented the double nickel (55MPH) national speed limit on highways. I get 20% better fuel mileage when I drive 55 MPH as opposed to 70 MPH. Unfortunately, nobody has the courage to even suggest that we consider that again.

    So, I guess its OK to go 80 MPH (when you can) on Interstate 5 and get crappy gas mileage because gas is only $5.25 a gallon. It also suggests that a lot of people don’t think that they are wasting gasoline at all.


    • Bill Kapaun says:

      Doing 55 instead of 70 means you spend 27% more time on the road to get where you’re going. Instead of 4 cars on the road, you’ll have 5. How ya think that’s going to work out?

  7. M. Richner says:

    It’s helpful to keep in mind that government provides the roads, private companies provide the vehicles. It’s not surprising that these two factors are out of sync. The least that could be done to help alleviate this is to charge fees for high-demand usage.


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