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City Streets or Freeway?

Several times a week I must make a trip from one corner of the city to the complete opposite. I can either drive directly across town on city streets, or take the freeway loop around. It’s a couple miles out of my way to get to the freeway, but drive time is about the same on either route. All things considered (gas mileage, wear & tear, brakes, etc.)wouldn’t it be better to drive the extra miles and take the freeway route?

It depends on where you are (which city), the time of day, and the traffic. I think you should check the local traffic report and weather daily before you decide.

If traffic isn’t an issue, I would take the highway every time.

How many miles is the route without the freeway? If you’d be adding two miles to a ten mile trip, then that is one thing, but if you’d be adding two miles to a one mile trip then that is another thing.

Your best best is probably to drive one route for a few weeks and record both your gas mileage and your total gas consumption. Then repeat the experiment using the other route. Whichever route gives the best gas mileage is also probably going to be the one that causes the least wear and tear to your car. However, whichever route gives the least total gas consumption is probably the best overall route to take.

It’s probably around 10-12 miles total. Wouldn’t freeway driving normally give the better mileage?

Yes, usually it does, it also eliminates stops/starts, so me, I’d take the freeway, as long as traffic wasn’t a pain.

Fuel economy shouldn’t be the only issue to consider. If taking the highway shaves off time spent commuting, it might be worth the extra fuel.

Let’s say cutting across town takes 20 minutes, and taking the highway the long way takes 10 minutes. Would it be worth an extra $0.20 in gas each day? Only you could make that determination.

In your original post, you make it sound like you are driving from one corner of a major city to the opposite corner, which could be as much at 50 miles in some cities. If the total distance is 10-12 miles, you must be in a pretty small town, and there likely isn’t enough traffic to factor into the decision, not in South Dakota anyway.

If going the long way only adds four miles per day, it might be worth a little extra gas.

Thanks for the response. Well, no, it’s not anything like NY or LA! lol This is an area of about 150,000 people. As I said in the original post drive time is nearly identical, but I figured spending the drive time at a constant or nearly so speed, as opposed to stop and go would be easier on the car and the mileage.

Safety would be my primary concern for a daily commute. Highways have a small fraction of the passenger mile accident rate as city streets – no intersections, no traffic lights and everyone goes in the same direction and speed (more or less).


Excellent point that I hadn’t thought of. Looks like the freeway will continue to be my route!

I agree absolutely. When I read the OP before looking at comments, my thought was, the freeway should be safer in most cities that I have known, which is not a lot. This is far more important in my life than gas used.

I agree. Though mileage is important, ease of travel, safety and time spent are more important. I generally go the quickest and most convenient, and let the car fend for itself. But, I believe overall, the quickest is often the most efficient and time of day has a big influense around here and maybe where you live.