I was so excited to see that Mapquest added a new feature to their maps. Now you can calculate the cost of your trip, instead of just looking at the miles.
To set it up, you need to record the vehicle(s) you will be taking on the trip, and the city and highway miles per gallon (MPG) rating for each vehicle. The system looks at more than just the distance, and includes the city and highway miles, which will affect the amount of gas you consume. For example, if you have to start and stop in small towns, the shorter distance could actually cause you to use more gasoline.
I needed to drive out of town for a trip, and I wanted to find the route that minimized my fuel consumption.
Option #1: Take US-151 North
Time: 2 hrs 1 min
Distance: 98.78 miles
Est. Fuel Cost: $7.13
Option #2: Take I-80 East
Time: 2 hrs 4 min
Distance: 112.77 miles
Est. Fuel Cost: $8.61
Looking at the map, I thought there might be an even shorter route, so I tried a couple different options. Here is the one I landed on.
Option #3: New Route
Time: 2 hrs 14 min
Distance: 94.63 miles
Est. Fuel Cost: $7.06
Success! The trip will take me an extra 10 minutes, but I cut out 8 miles round trip, and reduce gas consumption, which was my ultimate goal.
Someday, I hope they add a calculation of carbon footprint into their system, to take it to the next level. If you want to do that manually, you can multiply the number of gallons consumed (divide miles driven by your vehicle MPG) by 0.00892 metric tons CO2 (EPA). If I used 12 gallons to drive to Bellevue, then I would have consumed (12 x 0.00892) 0.107 metric tons of CO2.
Expect to see this functionality showing up on airline trips in the future. So when you go to book a flight, you can choose different aircrafts and routes to minimize your carbon footprint. Easy Jet already has this in place in Europe, so it will be a matter of time before we see it in the US.