"Friends Don't Let Friends Drive"

A group at UT Tyler has found a way to ease the gas and pocket book woes and gets students and faculty in summer shape.

It's called "Friends Don't Let Friends Drive," and for the entire month of June some 30 participants have accepted the challenge.   

Seven time Ironman contestant Bob Hepler has some high endurance, but even he has been challenged: To turn off the car and foot it, for a whole month. 

"I haven't set foot in a car, the entire month of June," Hepler explained.  "I live five miles from here. So, I bike five miles here and back, so 10 miles each day. Each day I'm burning an additional 800 calories a day."

But "Friends Don't Let Friends Drive" is not just about cutting calories but cutting expenses.

"With gas prices nearing three dollars a gallon, some people are interested in saving money. Some people are interested in improving the environment," Hepler said.

Some students and faculty have replaced the sofa with a seat cushion and four wheels with two, like Taj McFarland.

"I do spend a lot of time at home in front of the computer on the internet or watching TV or listening to the radio," Taj said. "I don't want to be a coach potato for the majority of my life. It's just a great reliever, getting myself back outdoors and enjoying the fresh air."

Triathlete Chauncey Deller got rid of his car, and bikes or walks everywhere. He said without insurance, parking permits and gas, he's saving at least 200 bucks a month.

"The first week I was fatigued and then after that first week my body adapted and I'm fine now," Chauncey said.

It's that great feeling of accomplishment and some cash savings, Bob hopes others will take note of.

"The idea is to get the people that are really sedentary, get them moving get them thinking."

UT Tyler will continue the "Friends Don't Let Friends Drive" program in October.

Maya Golden reporting, mgolden@kltv.com