Is Hypermiling Safe?
Today the most painful part of driving is the trip to the gas station. The price of fuel has affected family budgets and is the source of heated discussions. As a result of the cost of oil, a growing number of drivers are becoming “hypermilers”. “Hypermiling” or “ecodriving” are terms that describe techniques used by some motorists to increase the miles per gallon of their vehicle. These tactics come in a wide variety of actions, all of which save fuel, but some are dangerous and should not be used.
The driving tips that are safe and save gas include: carpooling, using public transit, removing unused roof racks, checking tire inflation, tracking your fuel consumption, leaving early and not rushing, avoiding peak traffic times, combining trips, and reducing speed. All of these practices will safely increase your vehicle’s miles per gallon.
The questionable techniques that may endanger motorists include not coming to a complete stop at stop signs. While slowing instead of stopping may save gas, it is also true that a traffic ticket or worse–a traffic crash–will negate the savings. Another common practice of hypermiling is to shift the vehicle into neutral or turn off the car in order to coast down a hill. This, too, can be dangerous if the motorist goes too far and unintentionally puts the vehicle into reverse.
Also, turning the car off is dangerous due the fact that the ignition controls the power steering and brakes. Ecodrivers also attempt to time traffic lights. The theory is to slow down as you approach a red light in an attempt to guess when it will turn green. By doing this, the car will not come to a full stop and will save fuel. The problem with timing traffic lights is that the sequence for intersections can be different. For instance, if a vehicle is waiting in the turn lane, when the light does turn, it will be for the turn lane only. This could send the hypermiler through a red light.
One last practice is called drafting (also known as tailgating). This technique works well when used by NASCAR drivers on a super speedway, but not by motorists on the highway. It is true that large trucks dramatically reduce wind resistance, but following too close to a large truck is a dangerous maneuver. When vehicles are behind or along side a large truck, the driver may not be able to see motorists due to blind spots around the truck.
We all want to save money, especially when it comes to gasoline. However, putting yourself and the other motorists at risk is not the answer. Improve your mileage by using the safe techniques, or perhaps look for a vehicle with the ability to get higher miles per gallon.