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High gas prices got you down?

Do something about it!

Industry analysts say the nation's record high gas prices are likely to climb even higher and everyone is either driving around in circles to find the lowest price or just griping about them.

But, according to experts, extra miles can be squeezed out of every fill-up if drivers follow a few simple rules.

"The way to save money is in every driver's hands, and sometimes feet," said Ray Palermo, director of public relations for national auto insurer, Response Insurance.

"Everything comes down to two basic categories of advice," explained Palermo, "car care and driving habits."

He offers drivers a few pieces of advice.

• Lighten the car's load by removing all unnecessary items from the trunk, such as the bag of sand and shovel from the winter. Every 200 pounds of weight reduces gas efficiency by one mile per gallon. If you have to carry a lot of baggage, avoid using a roof-top container, which will increase the air drag. If you drive a pick-up truck, the open bed will have the same impact, so put a cover on it.

• Incorrectly inflated tires decrease fuel efficiency. Check vehicle and tire manufacturer for proper inflation.

• Don't turn on the air conditioner as a first response to the heat. Start your drive off with the windows open to exhaust the hot air out of the rear windows and then put on the A/C if needed. This will also enable the air conditioning to work faster and more efficiently when turned on.

• Smooth out your driving style by avoiding "jack rabbit" starts and sharp braking. Both expend gas and can present a hazard for others on the road.

• It's estimated that every mile per hour driven above 55 MPH costs 1 percent in fuel economy. So, slowing down can be both safe and fuel-efficient. Maintaining a constant speed also maximizes your car's performance. If road conditions permit, use your car's cruise control.

• Traveling at a fast speed in a low gear wastes gas.

• Accelerate a little as you approach a hill, rather than hitting the gas and switching gears once on the incline.

A free brochure, Improving Your Gas Mileage - 10 Tips to Save You Money at the Gas Pump, is available by calling 1-800-610-5928 or at the website: www.response.com.

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