Drive Smarter, Drive Less, and Save Money

Every morning Sophia Pagoulatos takes a brisk walk to her carpool location at Bullard and Marks in northwest Fresno.

Sophia Pagoulatos, Fresno Carpooler: "My commute was a 10-mile commute, and I used to do it twice a day cuz I'd go home at lunch to see my baby, so that's 40 miles a day, 200 miles a week that I was driving."

Which means she saves about $50 a week on gas, not to mention car payments, she and her husband sold their second car.

If you're driving a lot less these days, take a second look at your car insurance. The Insurance Information Network of California says driving just 5,000 miles less each year could save drivers $100 to $500 each year on auto insurance. Just ask your agent.

Frank Johnson, State Farm Agent: "Sit down with your agent and review your policies because it's huge. It's priceless because there's a lot of things people don't understand about the insurance industry, in addition to ways they can save money."

And avoid tickets. Just being a good driver saves you money too. California drivers with less than 2 points on their driving record get a 20 percent discount on their insurance premium. And before you head out on that summer road trip ... A few changes to your driving habits ... Can squeeze every mile out of every drop of gas.

One way to make your trip more fuel efficient, map it out ahead of time. You can figure out the most efficient way to go. And if you have a GPS that can help you find gas stations, ATMS, and hotels that can save wasted gas driving around looking for them.

Whether you're headed out on a long road trip or just loading up for a quick getaway, consumer reports has some packing tips to help you save at the pump. First, try not to carry things on the roof.

"Car-top carriers and roof racks create unnecessary drag and reduce fuel efficiency."

Taking bikes along? Use a rear-mounted bike rack. They produce less wind resistance. And take out the golf clubs unless you're headed to the links ... Each 100 pounds of extra weight, reduces gas mileage by as much as 4 percent.

Jon Linkov, Consumer Reports: "You really should make an effort to pare down and lighten the load. And it's safest to take the heaviest items you have and push them as far forward as possible in the cargo area."

This will also help handling.

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