On Dec. 21, the Deseret News published an article titled “Utahns willing to do their part for clean air." It stated that 99 percent of the polled Wasatch Front residents would be willing to change their behavior to relieve air pollution. A simple reduction in average vehicle driving speed could be such a behavioral change that could immediately contribute to improved winter air quality.

Inefficient operation of gasoline/diesel engines generates more air pollution, including microparticles, a visible component of urban smog. “Fuel economy vs. speed” websites indicate that automobile engines are most efficient at a driving speed of 50-55 miles per hour. Automobile engine efficiency and resulting fuel economy decrease with driving speeds greater than 55 miles per hour. You can assume that each 5 mph you drive over 50 mph is like paying an additional $0.24 per gallon of gas.

Simple measures adopted by large numbers of people could have a positive impact on this problem. One simple measure would be for the driving public to voluntarily reduce its driving speed to the posted legal speed limits. A “Drive 55 to stay alive” initiative could have an immediate positive impact on winter air quality on the Wasatch Front.

Please consider joining me in the slow lane.

Richard Sontheimer

Cottonwood Heights