When the price of gasoline in Southern California went above $5 a gallon, there was very nearly panic in the streets. Drivers were lining up for gasoline at the stations with the lowest price; reports of theft of gasoline flourished, both from private vehicles and gas stations, and some folks were abandoning their cars on the street when the tank was empty.

Defensive drivers know the importance of being fully prepared for any road trip-whether they are heading across the country or just across town. That means checking your fuel supply first. Not everyone can afford to fill up the gas tank, especially when prices are skyrocketing, but if you don’t have enough fuel to get you where you are going and back you are going to end up paying more to get yourself (and your vehicle) home safely.

Now is also a good time to start thinking about your driving habits. Defensive drivers already know that no matter what sort of gas mileage they might be getting from their vehicle, aggressive driving will make it much, much worse. According to studies by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, aggressive driving (that means too much acceleration; frequent stopping starting or swerving in and out of traffic; speeding) can decrease your vehicle’s fuel efficiency by as much as 45%. With gas prices hovering around the $5 mark you could wind up costing yourself hundreds of extra dollars every month just by driving carelessly.

Now might also be a good time to consider ride sharing, or commuting, especially if you have a regular route you take to work or school every day. By joining forces with someone else (or a few people) who are making the same trip every day you can decrease how much money you spend on fuel and make use of High Occupancy Vehicle lanes if you are taking to the highway.