QOTD: Dealing With The Metric System

by Tim Healey

I promise that today's QOTD is (likely) the last one I do based on my international travel last week.

It's also something that was already on my mind long before I booked this vacation since I am an American working for a Canadian company.

Yup, we're gonna talk about the metric system.

We Yanks like to think we're in this bubble of Imperial measurements, but many of us, myself included, live within a reasonable drive of Canada -- a place that uses the metric system. I believe Mexico uses it, as well, and many of us live within a short drive of that country. The point being is you don't need to fly across the ocean to encounter the metric system -- you merely need to cross a border.

So I have a few questions for y'all. First off, what's your comfort level with using it? I personally can fairly quickly translate kilometers and kilometers per hour into miles and mph, but god help me if I try to quickly convert Celsius to Fahrenheit or vice versa.

Second, what tricks do you use for quick conversions? I read somewhere that since a kilometer is 0.62 of a mile, you can convert mpg to km/h by multiplying by 1.6. I've run a few 5Ks and since those are 3.1 miles, I just used that as a benchmark -- so for a 20 km distance, I figured it was 3.1 miles x 4, so 12.4 miles.

What do you do?

Finally, here's the big one, the one that might start comment wars -- which system do you prefer, and should America get with (most) of the rest of the world and go metric, or the other way around? Or is it just fine if we're Imperial and everyone else is metric? What about a hybrid -- some measurements are Imperial and some metric?

Sound off below.

[Image: Sylvie Bouchard/Shutterstock.com]

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Tim Healey

Tim Healey grew up around the auto-parts business and has always had a love for cars — his parents joke his first word was “‘Vette”. Despite this, he wanted to pursue a career in sports writing but he ended up falling semi-accidentally into the automotive-journalism industry, first at Consumer Guide Automotive and later at Web2Carz.com. He also worked as an industry analyst at Mintel Group and freelanced for About.com, CarFax, Vehix.com, High Gear Media, Torque News, FutureCar.com, Cars.com, among others, and of course Vertical Scope sites such as AutoGuide.com, Off-Road.com, and HybridCars.com. He’s an urbanite and as such, doesn’t need a daily driver, but if he had one, it would be compact, sporty, and have a manual transmission.

More by Tim Healey

Join the conversation
• Wgmleslie on Jun 29, 2023

The USA doesn't use Imperial Units, we use US Customary Units.

For example, the Imperial Pint has 20 ounces, the USCU has 16.

• Your on Nov 07, 2023

The "trick" to converting is to not convert. Just use the damn metric system. Honest to God, WHAT are you yanks so afraid of?

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