Brace yourselves.  The most anticipated shopping day of the year is almost upon us.  And while the Black Friday experience makes for some good bargains on holiday gifts, it can quickly become a bad deal for traffic and air quality at malls and stores all over Georgia.  That’s because half of the smog-forming emissions in the state come from tailpipes.   

While not a traditionally onerous day for commuters on the major roadways, Black Friday can cause pandemonium in the parking lots and painfully slow traffic heading into and out of shopping centers.  According to the National Retail Federation, up to 152 million people nationwide plan to shop during the 2011 Black Friday weekend (Friday, Saturday and Sunday).  This makes Black Friday a terrific time to use commute alternatives so you can focus on the doorbusters and discounts. 

After you make your list and check it twice, take advantage of carpooling, riding transit, special mall shuttle service and other options to save you money and time.  For ideas on how you can help The Clean Air Campaign turn Black Friday blue, click here.

Truly there is never a dull moment on the roads.  And now commuters in the Woodstock area can add another crazy challenge to the traffic congestion that befalls area roads: a wild turkey disrupting commute trips.

Wild Turkey Makes Home in Woodstock:

Doesn't this bird know what happens next week?  

With Thanksgiving fast approaching, The Clean Air Campaign offers this money savings tip: carpooling just a few times can free up enough money on gas and car expenses to help the typical Georgia commuter buy a delicious turkey. 

We're looking at you, Tom.

As we head deeper into autumn, the landscape is treating us to a spectacular parade of orange, yellow and red hues.  Yes, turn signals and brake lights at rush hour are indeed a sight to behold.  But it’s more fun to wax poetic about the fall leaves.  So, frolic in the foliage and rake in this latest edition of Merging Lanes.

Smog-Eating Concrete

In the future green economy of America, the streets won’t be paved with gold.  They’ll be paved with titanium dioxide.  Demonstrating that innovation knows no boundaries in the shared space between transportation and air quality, engineers in Missouri recently laid down a 1,500-foot strip of asphalt that can break down ground-level ozone pollution.  Mixed into this special blend of concrete is a titanium dioxide additive that creates a photo-catalytic reaction, absorbing smog, using sunlight to break it down, and releasing it as nitrogen and carbon dioxide.  Neat.

Lane ends 2,000 feet.

The Morning Ritual That’s Ruining Your Car’s Engine

With the chill of autumn comes those frosty mornings that all commuters must endure.  But there’s one driveway ritual that Georgia commuters should stop practicing because it can ruin a car’s performance.  Warming up the engine in the mornings by allowing it to idle can actually wear down engine parts and create more air pollution.  The practice of unnecessary idling on cold mornings can produce up to six grams of carbon monoxide per minute.  That’s equal to the carbon monoxide content from three packs of cigarettes.  Turns out, it’s also an easy way to get your car stolen.  Simply put, the best way to warm up your engine and create less air pollution on your morning commute is to drive your vehicle instead of idling.

Lane ends 1,000 feet.

Where the Germs Are

If you need extra motivation to drive less, look no further.  From the Yuck Department, a new study found that gas pump handles may be among the dirtiest surfaces that we touch.  A team of hygienists conducted tests in six cities – including Atlanta – and determined that gas pump and mailbox handles, escalator rails and ATM buttons were more likely to harbor high concentrations of germs that can lead to illness.  In all, 71% of gas pump handles tested had high contamination levels.  Gross!

Lane ends 500 feet.

Families Trapped in Vehicles
The headline of a recent article in Time magazine points out the depth of America’s car culture: “We Pay More to Drive Than We Spend on Taxes.”  Citing a new study conducted by a Washington, D.C. think tank, the article describes how difficult it is for the average American family to scale back on driving costs, even in the face of higher energy prices that influence everything from the cost of a gallon of gasoline to a gallon of milk.  Over the past decade, The Clean Air Campaign and its partners have helped more than 85,000 Georgia commuters get relief from the high cost of commuting through a combination of financial incentives and support programs.  We’re ready to help more people make their dollars go further by using commute options.


Remember to set your clocks back an hour this Sunday, November 6.  As we “fall back” and adjust to the time change, it’s also important to take into account how the evening rush hour commute changes with the earlier onset of dusk.  Studies show increased risk of evening traffic accidents in the days following the end of daylight saving time, primarily due to poorer visibility during the evening drive home. 

According to U.S. Census data, some 39% of Georgia commuters have one-way commute times of 30 minutes or longer, making it a sure bet that some of the ride home may be in darkness.  Get a carpool partner so you have an extra set of eyes to help you negotiate through traffic.  Or consider riding transit so you don’t have to do the driving.  Not only can these commute options be safer than going it alone, they can also help you save big bucks on commute costs.  And if you’re a bicycle commuter or a walker, be sure that you have the right gear to make yourself visible to other commuters.

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