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Next week is a great week to shake up the routine a little in your daily commute. The Clean Air Campaign, together with Clark Howard and the crew at 750 AM WSB and the region's local Transportation Management Associations, want you to pick a day next week to give your car the day off. Last year, some 1,300 metro Atlanta commuters pledged to do it (when gas prices rose above $4 last year, it's easy to see why). This year, let's raise the bar! You can sign up here to take part.

Need a little motivation to participate this go around? Here are five great reasons to give your car the day off:

  1. Every mile you drive alone is costing you 54 cents. That adds up over time, especially in Atlanta, which is recognized as one of the most expensive areas for commuters nationwide. Did you know the average metro ATL household spends more than $8,000 a year on transportation costs? That's more than we spend on food.
  2. You can get more done when you're not behind the wheel. With an average commute time in the region of 36 minutes each way, we're all looking for ways to be more productive. Why not hop on an Xpress bus or carpool and read a book or catch up on e-mail?
  3. Half of all smog-forming emissions come from the tailpipes of cars and trucks. That's a major factor in the number of days we experience when air quality is deemed unhealthy for outdoor activity. Fewer tailpipes is good for the air we breathe. Try carpooling. If you need help finding a person to share the ride, The Clean Air Campaign can direct you to RideSmart, a division of the Atlanta Regional Commission that runs a service to match commuters who live and work near each other.
  4. Not having to drive means less stress from the grind of traffic and the "unpredictable actions" of other commuters who are competing for space on the roads. You don't have to get worked up about the dummy who zooms past you and changes lanes without signaling when you're teleworking.
  5. When you leave your car in the driveway and choose a different way to get to work, you're not using up as much energy. Try MARTA. They're also supporting an event next week -- on Thursday, June 18 -- called "Dump the Pump." We all remember how exasperating it was last year to shell out big bucks for gas. It's still painful to pay $2.50 a gallon. Try an alternative so you don't need to fill up the tank as often.

Giving your car the day off one day next week is just a starting point, of course. We want you to do it once in hopes that you'll consider doing it more often. There are more than 350,000 commuters across town who have come to enjoy alternatives to driving alone. We need more to accomplish our mission of less traffic and cleaner air.

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