Fuelishness! -- The FuelClinic.com Blog

We Drive With Our Brain and Eyes as Opposed to Our Hands and Feet

As a driver, we can begin the process of mentally preparing to drive by doing hazard perception training. We actually drive with our brain and eyes as opposed to our hands and feet. Your brain tells your eyes where to look, your eyes look and see potential hazards and then send a message back to your brain with a required response. Your hands and feet or are then called to duty to protect you. Cognitively, you’re actually doing this before you realize it. What helps immensely is having advanced training to get your brain ready for these hazards before you really need them. Dealing with many possible hazards and the proper responses before you need them is the way to begin a safe driving career.

Hazard perception training, combined with driving on public roads, enhances our ability to not only perceive potential hazards, but gives you options of how to deal with these often hidden hazards. This actually speeds up the process of hazard perception so the driver is better prepared for the real world. Computer and simulator training are often the best methods to get your brain on the same page as experienced drives. This type of training is critical for a new driver to gain experience in thinking like an experienced driver – but in less time.

Even the best athlete with amazing hand-eye coordination can’t deal with potential hazards as quickly as someone who has been trained mentally to do this. For years I’ve had students who did not have hazard perception training and would often have ‘target fixation’ when a hazard appeared. They stared at the hazard and did nothing. I had to intervene and help them out. For the students who did hazard perception training, they would often respond immediately without assistance; just like a seasoned driver.

So, what type of driver would you like driving your vehicle; someone who thinks and responds like an experienced driver or someone who may have ‘target fixation’ and responds late. I know what my answer is; what’s your answer?

 



The Extra Mile – SaferTeenDriver.com Adds New Tools for Novice Teen Drivers

Today the website SaferTeenDriver.com was relaunched with a new hazard perception evaluation and related defensive driver training courses. The updated website incorporates best in class evaluation and educational services from  BrightFleet.com, but adds a unique coaching guide to help parents and teens get the most from the training.

“We have spent years helping fleets improve their safety programs and reduce risk,” said Bob O’Connor, the CFO of BrightFleet, “Now I have a teenage daughter who was having difficulty learning how to drive. She had learned the basic mechanics of driving, but lacked any real understanding of the hazards around her. It was as if she was driving in a bubble. Out of frustration I thought about applying the same hazard perception evaluation and related courses we had been using for several years with commercial fleets, but this time for her.”

Teen drivers are most at risk of having an accident in their first year of driving. Car accidents are still the number one cause of death for teenagers, and injure or maim countless more. Novice teen drivers lack the experience to identify and understand the kinds of hazards that are common on the roads today. They tend to have poor situational awareness, and target-fixate on hazards that appear suddenly, instead of concentrating on maintaining an “out” if a potential hazard turns into an actual one.

“I found that my child responded very well to the training, given the additional guidance I was able to provide to help her understand how the training worked. She picked it up right away. She completed her evaluation, and was assigned a set of courses like proper use of mirrors, safe lane changing, and the other motorist to take,” said Mr. O’Connor. “She completed her courses in about a week, and in the following  ride-alongs with her I noticed a real improvement in her awareness. She was talking me through the potential hazards she was watching as we drove along. I was blown away by her progress in such a short period of time, and that’s when I decided that we had to make this training available to parents and novice teen drivers.”

Parents interested in seeing how this service can help their own soon-to-be or just licensed novice drivers can watch a short video explaining how SaferTeenDriver works. The training normally retails for $119.95 and includes access for both the parent and the teen driver, but during a limited introductory promotional period, new accounts can be purchased at a discounted rate of $99.95 by using the code “TheExtraMile” during the checkout process.

SaferTeenDriver.com is a service of BrightFleet.com, which is a service of Compendium Software Systems, LLC – a veteran owned small business located in Central Florida that focuses on tailoring advanced technologies into solutions that help prevent accidents, reduce risk, and save companies (and now parents!) money by improving the safety and efficiency of drivers everywhere.



Drive Safer Sunday

The Sunday after Thanksgiving is the busiest traffic day of the year. That means sharing the road with drivers who are using hand-held devices, eating, sleepy, or even drunk. So give yourself one more reason to be thankful. Be safe – slow down, buckle up, stay alert and give heavy trucks plenty of room since they can’t see, maneuver or stop like you can.



Interview with Jamie Lynn Crandall – Miss Utah USA – Working to Stop Texting While Driving

From: Decision Points @ Fleet Blogs

Last week ace automotive reporter Michael Block caught up with Jamie Lynn Crandall, the reigning Miss Utah 2011, who is on a mission to convince people to stop texting while driving.

Block was able to spend the better part of an hour interviewing her over the phone about her mission and her relationship with Hang Up – Save A Life, an organization she helped start after losing a friend in an automobile accident where the other driver was texting.

It’s an interesting interview. She makes several excellent points – including the need to reach young drivers who are just learning to drive, as well as older drivers who are just learning to text.

Decision Points: Do you think distracted driving is also a problem among commercial fleets?

Jamie Lynn Crandall: I think everybody is guilty of it. Although I’m trying more to get the attention of young people in high school that are just starting to learn how to drive, it’s just as important for people my age and even our parents, because they’re just starting to learn how to text, and they’re trying to do it at the same time they’re trying to do everything else. I would especially hope, however, that the drivers of fleet vehicles would take these warnings even more seriously, as they’re on the clock at their job.

Distracted driving is now considered to be as dangerous as driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Texting while driving is considered to be one of the most risky things people can do behind the wheel, and most company and government vehicle policies prohibit it while on company time. Many parts of the country have laws prohibiting texting while driving, and there are apps for smart phones that will help parents and fleet managers control the ability to make and receive calls and texts while driving.

Read the whole thing over at Decision Points @ Fleet Blogs.



“Vehicle Platooning” Project Carries out First Successful Test in Sweden

Source: http://www.traffictechnologytoday.com

Volvo Proving Ground, Gothenburg, Sweden — …The vehicle platooning system is a convoy of vehicles, where a professional driver in a lead vehicle drives a line of other vehicles. Each car measures the distance, speed and direction and adjusts to the car in front. All vehicles are totally detached and can leave the procession at any time. Once in the platoon, drivers can relax and do other things while the platoon proceeds towards its destination.

Platooning is designed to improve a number of aspects, such as: road safety, as it rules out the human factor that is the cause of at least 80% of road accidents; fuel consumption and thus CO2 emissions are saved by up to 20%; convenience for drivers, because it frees up time for other matters; and traffic congestion, as the vehicles will travel at highway speed with a gap of only a few meters between them. The tests carried out included a lead vehicle and single following car. The steering wheel of the following car moves by itself, as the vehicle smoothly follows the lead truck around the country road test track. The driver is able to drink coffee or read a paper, using neither hand nor foot to operate his vehicle. The technology development is well under way and is likely go into production in a few years time. What may take substantially longer is public acceptance of the system and the legislation where 25 EU governments must all pass similar laws…

Read the rest.

[Hat Tip: Eddie Wren – International Road Safety – LinkedIn Group]



BrightFleet Mentioned at Fleet Blogs

Steve Fowler’s new blog Fuel Hardy has a great post about the BrightFleet.com‘s Hazard Perception Evaluation titled:

Are your drivers paying attention? It could be costly!

…I gave BrightFleet a call and was speaking with Michael Bragg who is obviously excited about driver training. He offered and I accepted his challenge and went through a demo of their on-line driver training. I was surprised at how real it all was.You actually “drive” down the street as different real life situations unfold. I found the program to be both fun to do and very enlightening. The fun part is important as it makes you want to do it. As for being enlightened let’s just say it was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be…

It was great talking with Steve about BrightFleet and his 360FuelCard programs that help companies reduce their fuel costs while providing an environmental edge.



Consumer Advisory: NHTSA Reissues 15-Passenger Van Safety Caution

January 1, 2011 · Filed Under BrightFleet, Driver Training, FuelClinic, LinkedIn, Twitter · 1 Comment 

As the fall and winter driving seasons get under way, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is urging users of 15-passenger vans to take specific steps to keep occupants safe. Two recent fatal crashes, in New York and Georgia, involving 15-passenger vans that rolled over and resulted in 10 deaths give urgency to this reminder.

The agency warns that tire maintenance is paramount to preventing tragedies, such as these recent rollover crashes, from occurring. Users of 15-passenger vans need to make sure the vehicles have appropriately-sized tires that are properly inflated before every trip. The agency also points out that tires degrade over time. For this reason, NHTSA recommends that spare tires not be used as replacements for worn tires. In fact, many tire manufacturers recommend that tires older than 10 years not be used at all.

NHTSA said that it is directing this advisory to church groups, other non-profit organizations and colleges that may be keeping older 15-passenger vans in service longer than usual because of tight transportation budgets. Pre-primary, primary and secondary schools should not use 15-passenger vans for transporting school children, as they do not provide the same level of safety as school buses. It is also against federal law for schools to buy new 15-passenger vans for school transportation purposes.

Here are some safety tips for anyone planning a trip in 15-passenger vans:

  • If you are an owner, make sure the vehicle is properly maintained.
  • Owners should make sure drivers are fully trained and experienced in operating a 15-passenger van and are properly licensed.
  • 15-passenger vans are very sensitive to loading and should not be overloaded under any circumstances. Agency research shows overloading not only increases rollover risk but makes the vehicle more unstable in any handling maneuvers.
  • Owners should make sure that properly sized tires are being used on their vehicles.
  • Before every trip, drivers should check the tires for proper inflation, and make sure there are no signs of wear. Correct tire size and inflation pressure information can be found in the owner’s manual.
  • If you are a passenger, make sure you buckle up for every trip.

Additional information on 15-passenger van safety can be found here.



Fiat eco-driving trial cuts emissions by 6%

Source: TheENDSReport

A five-month ‘eco-driving’ trial involving 5,700 drivers achieved an average fuel saving of 6%, Fiat reported in November.

The most improved tenth of drivers in the trial, covering five EU nations including the UK, reduced fuel use by 16% on average.

Drivers were given a USB ‘memory stick’ which plugged into cars to record data on acceleration, gear changes, average speed and deceleration. Data was then analysed by Fiat’s ecoDrive software on home computers and tailored advice given on how to improve driving to cut fuel consumption and emissions.

The UK’s Committee on Climate Change and the now-abolished Commission for Integrated Transport have advocated eco-driving as one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce transport CO2 emissions.

Our own eco-driving results are not too far off – with an average 5.03% improvement from our 3,500+ members of FuelClinic.com, as measured over the last two years.

Motorists who also use the FuelClinic-Configured Car-Chip as an in-vehicle eco-driving coach see even better results. When properly configured to warn drivers of inefficient driving like excessive acceleration, inefficient top-speed, and aggressive driving, the device provides important immediate reminders about driving behavior to drivers.

Immediate in-car feedback is important to maximize returns on eco-driving training and programs, but must be done in a manner that is not distracting to the driver. Simple audible feedback is the form of “warning beeps” reminds the driver that their current action is “missing the mark” set for their eco-driving goals.

The full FIAT Eco:Drive Report is available for download. It is an excellent study, and I have been studying it for a few days now. I will add it to our “Research Library” shortly. In the mean time, you can download it from FIAT.



“FuelClinic Fleet Systems” is now BrightFleet.com

BrightFleetWashington DC – Dec. 13th, 2010 – Compendium Software Systems, LLC announced today the release of BrightFleet.com™ http://www.brightfleet.com, marking a change in branding for all products previously available under the FuelClinic Fleet™ Systems brand.

BrightFleet’s™ mission is to provide a globally-available risk identification and mitigation system, all in one easily administered and affordable solution available immediately for fleets of any size and type.

“Our state-of-the-art Hazard Perception Evaluation application is a predictive behavior analysis tool designed to identify a fleet’s high risk drivers based on their ability to identify dangerous situations that happen every day on our roadways”, said Michael Bragg of Compendium Software Systems, the company behind the BrightFleet™ brand.

While BrightFleet™ will focus solely on providing advanced technologies to fleet operators on a global scale, FuelClinic™ http://www.fuelclinic.com will continue to focus on providing motorists fuel efficiency improving eco-driving advice, techniques, and progress-tracking software.

“We love the FuelClinic community, and plan to continue to increase the level of service we provide to the eco-drivers there”, said Bragg. “We also relize that the fleet risk management and mitigation products we offer are a more natural fit under the new BrightFleet™ brand.”

To learn more about BrightFleet™, visit the website at http://www.brightfleet.com



Drive Safer Sunday is November 28, 2010

From: Road Safe America — November 28, the Sunday after Thanksgiving, will be the busiest traffic day of the year. Do what you can to be safe – get plenty of rest, stay alert, buckle up, put away the hand-held devices, and slow down.

Be extra careful around big trucks – leave them plenty of room because they cannot see, maneuver, or stop as easily as you can.

Visit our website, www.roadsafeamerica.org, for more safety tips.



Interesting Video on Behavior Modification Study

As we continue to study the ways that communication can be used to change peoples behavior I’ve come across this video from BDI in London, and thought I’d post it for comment.



Move Over for Stopped Emergency Vehicles in Maryland

A new Maryland law went into effect on October 1, 2010. This law requires drivers to move over one lane, away from an emergency vehicle (police, ambulance, fire apparatus) on the side of the road with its red or blue lights flashing, and to slow down. The fine is $110.00 and two points for each emergency vehicle on the side of the road with flashing red/blue lights passed. For example, you come upon an accident scene on the left side of the road. There is a fire truck, an ambulance, and three police cars – all with flashing red/blue lights – at the scene. You continue pass the scene in the left lane at the posted speed. Your fine could be $550.00 plus 10 points. [Source: The Baltimore Sun, October 18, 2010]

If you passed the scene at a speed greater than the posted speed limit, an additional fine and points could be added for speeding and perhaps even reckless driving. 10 points means your license would be suspended for two years – in addition to a substantial increase in your auto insurance (30% – 50%) or forced to use the Maryland Automobile Insurance Fund (MAIF) where you will pay at least 30% more than your current premium and must pay for a complete year all at once (no installment payments allowed) – you will remain in this category for three years.

Maryland Point System – This is in addition to any fines that are imposed and increases in automobile insurance premiums:

9 mph or less over the posted speed limit = 1 point

10 – 30 mph over the posted speed limit = 2 points (Except 20 mph or greater over a posted 65 mph limit = 5 points)

30 mph or more over the posted speed limit = 5 points

Reckless Driving = 6 points — can be added to the points assessed for speeding. For example, you are convicted of driving 20 mph over the posted 65 mph limit and reckless driving. The total points that could be awarded (in addition to fines) is 11 points. If you pass a fire truck, ambulance, and three police cars (all with flashing red/blue lights) on the side of the road while you are recklessly speeding down a road with a 65 mph speed limit and you fail to move at least one lane to the right and significantly slow below the speed limit, you could be awarded a total of 21 points! So, what happens?

When you accrue 5-7 points in a 2-year period, you are required to complete the Maryland Driver Improvement Program (driving school).

8-11 points within a 2-year period means your license is suspended for two years.

12 points gets your license revoked. After two years you can apply for a new license. In the example above, you could lose your license for four years and the cost of auto insurance would be high!



Georgia Southern University “Get Pumped” Tire Inflation Campaign

Georgia Southern University took a step in the green direction last month as its Center for Sustainability rolled out a “Get Pumped” Tire Inflation campaign. The Center teamed up with more than 80 student volunteers who informed ~400 drivers about the benefits of checking their car tire pressure each month. Volunteers also showed them where to find their vehicle’s recommended tire pressure in the driver’s door jamb, taught them how to use a tire gauge, and gave them a window sticker to remind them of the proper tire pressure and the date to check their tires each month. If vehicle tires were low, volunteers filled them up.

If all the volunteers and drivers make this simple change in behavior, the collective benefit of the Get Pumped campaign will be a savings of up to 50,000 gallons of gas $250,000, and 720 tons of CO2 each year, not to mention improved vehicle safety and tire life.

Student volunteers enjoyed the opportunity. Volunteer Jade McKibben commented “I really feel that I informed a lot of people who will spread the word about the CO2 emissions and the pros of simply maintaining the recommended tire pressure.” Drivers appreciated the free service, received unexpectedly as they went to their work out at the campus Recreation Activities Center (RAC).

Southside Service Center generously trained student volunteers and K’bob Kelly’s, Sugar Magnolia, and Gnat’s Landing provided gift certificates for the volunteers who educated the most drivers. Campus Recreation and Intramurals, Physical Plant, Parking and Transportation, Marketing all helped to make this event a great success.

For those interested in learning more about how to save fuel, visit fuelclinic.com for helpful tips and an online method to track your car’s fuel efficiency. Join the Center for Sustainability’s facebook group http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=142698357289 or find our website at http://cost.georgiasouthern.edu/sustainability/ for updates on sustainability events on campus and in the community.



Aggressive and timid drivers cause traffic jams, scientists discover

From the Telegraph

Motorists who are too aggressive or too timid in their driving style are the cause of major traffic jams, scientists have discovered.

Researchers say aggressive motorists, who drive too fast and too close to the vehicle in front, or timid motorists, who leave too big a gap, send a “wave of deceleration” backwards down the road until traffic grinds to a stop.

Such behaviour leads to the stop-start traffic jams which infuriate motorists.
Since 2001 the number of cars on Britain’s roads has risen considerably from 24.6 million to 31 million, leading to more traffic jams.
A report earlier this year estimated that by 2025, drivers in Britain could be wasting 656 million hours a year – the equivalent of 75,000 years – sitting in traffic jams.

Such behaviour leads to the stop-start traffic jams which infuriate motorists.Since 2001 the number of cars on Britain’s roads has risen considerably from 24.6 million to 31 million, leading to more traffic jams.A report earlier this year estimated that by 2025, drivers in Britain could be wasting 656 million hours a year – the equivalent of 75,000 years – sitting in traffic jams…

Read the rest… Discuss at IntelliDriveUSA on LinkedIn



City of Sanford’s FuelClinic.com Pilot Program Completes 1st Phase

Sanford, FL – The FuelClinic Fleet System (http://fleet.fuelclinic.compilot program with the City of Sanford, FL has completed it’s first phase, with the collection of driver behavior data from a selection of vehicles from the City’s fleet. The data-logging devices will be returned for analysis and processing using the driver behavior analysis software under development at Compendium Software Systems, LLC.

“The collection part of the first phase is done, and the data collected by the devices will be uploaded to our servers for processing. Based on what we find using our driver behavior analysis software, we’ll make recommendations to the City on ways it can cut it’s yearly fuel usage, helping the City to reduce expenses.” said Michael Bragg of Compendium.

The pilot program is being used to allow the City to evaluate the driver behavior monitoring system, and look for ways to save the City money by cutting it’s fuel usage and reducing risk. The system works by collecting data from the vehicles on-board diagnostic computer, providing the fleet manager a real-world look into how their fleet vehicles are being driven. In this first generation system, the devices are removed from the vehicle and the data is uploaded to a central processing server using a standard USB cable and a bit of software that handles the communications.

Once the data is uploaded, the processing of weeks worth of real world driver behavior data begins. The hub of this system is software that accepts driving data from a variety of devices and sources. It parses the data into a standardized format, and begins to look for trends that indicate inefficient or risky driver behavior. It then compiles reports to allow fleet managers to quickly identify problems within their fleet.

Compendium’s recent channel-partnership with Alert Driving provides clients with access to top-tier online training modules to help mitigate problems with driver behavior or fuel efficiency using proven training tools that are targeted, easy to administer, and affordable.

“Our whole goal is to make fleets of any size safer and more efficient, providing a substantial ROI to clients by getting more out of every gallon of fuel they purchase while at the same time helping reduce accidents and related costs” said Bragg. “We are cherry-picking the best practices and technologies already used in major fleets, and re-packaging them into right-sized systems that any business can afford.”



FuelClinic.com Fleet System adds AlertDriving Web-Based Driver Training and Hazard Perception Evaluation

ORLANDO, Fla., July 6 /PRNewswire/ — Compendium Software Systems, LLC, creators of the FuelClinic.com Fleet System ( http://fleet.fuelclinic.com ), is excited to announce their new channel partnership with Sonic E-Learning Inc., creators of AlertDriving.com.

This partnership will enhance Compendium’s FuelClinic Fleet System by adding a complete predictive behavior analysis and online driver training program to help clients green their fleet and improve driver safety.

“It makes perfect sense to partner with AlertDriving, who have been hugely successful in the larger fleet market,” said Michael Bragg, President of Compendium. “We are cherry-picking the best of the big fleet technologies, combining them with our core DriveMetrics driver-behavior analysis software, and creating a complete system unlike any other currently available to small and medium-sized fleet owners.”

FuelClinic Fleet System is a complete fuel & risk reduction program that monitors real-world driver behavior, reporting problems to managers who can then take action to correct behavior, improving safety and reducing costs, fuel use, CO2 emissions, and collisions.

FuelClinic Fleet System will now encompass true predictive behavior-driver analysis with a program called Hazard Perception Evaluation that is proven to predict driver behavior. It uses a proprietary algorithm to automatically identify individual driver deficiencies, then assign specific training modules to correct identified driver deficiencies that will reduce collisions.

AlertDriving is a complete Risk Identification and Risk Mitigation program that complements the FuelClinic Fleet System to become the most comprehensive fuel and collision reducing program available.

Compendium Software Systems, LLC is a software development firm and current clients of the University of Central Florida’s Business Incubation Program, located in Sanford, Florida. Compendium specializes in advanced information systems for use in driver-behavior analysis.

AlertDriving is a global leader in fleet risk management solutions with a web-based program available to any driver from any computer. Until recently only available to the largest fleets, this new channel partner arrangement with FuelClinic.com Fleet System will help make AlertDriving training solutions affordable and available to fleets of all sizes.



FuelClinic.com Fleet System Adds AlertDriving Web-Based Driver Training and Hazard Perception Evaluation

ORLANDO, Fla., July 6 /PRNewswire/ — Compendium Software Systems, LLC, creators of the FuelClinic.com Fleet System (http://fleet.fuelclinic.com), is excited to announce their new channel partnership with Sonic E-Learning Inc., creators of AlertDriving.com.

This partnership will enhance Compendium’s FuelClinic Fleet System by adding a complete predictive behavior analysis and online driver training program to help clients green their fleet and improve driver safety.

“It makes perfect sense to partner with AlertDriving, who have been hugely successful in the larger fleet market,” said Michael Bragg, President of Compendium. “We are cherry-picking the best of the big fleet technologies, combining them with our core DriveMetrics driver-behavior analysis software, and creating a complete system unlike any other currently available to small and medium-sized fleet owners.”

FuelClinic Fleet System is a complete fuel & risk reduction program that monitors real-world driver behavior, reporting problems to managers who can then take action to correct behavior, improving safety and reducing costs, fuel use, CO2 emissions, and collisions.

FuelClinic Fleet System will now encompass true predictive behavior-driver analysis with a program called Hazard Perception Evaluation that is proven to predict driver behavior. It uses a proprietary algorithm to automatically identify individual driver deficiencies, then assign specific training modules to correct identified driver deficiencies that will reduce collisions.

AlertDriving is a complete Risk Identification and Risk Mitigation program that complements the FuelClinic Fleet System to become the most comprehensive fuel and collision reducing program available.

Compendium Software Systems, LLC is a software development firm and current clients of the University of Central Florida’s Business Incubation Program, located in Sanford, Florida. Compendium specializes in advanced information systems for use in driver-behavior analysis.

AlertDriving is a global leader in fleet risk management solutions with a web-based program available to any driver from any computer. Until recently only available to the largest fleets, this new channel partner arrangement with FuelClinic.com Fleet System will help make AlertDriving training solutions affordable and available to fleets of all sizes.



5 Top Driving Mistakes that Cause Crashes

GMAC Insurance is one of the largest insurers in the nation and has offices in many different countries around the world. Based on their years of collecting crash data, they offer the following key 5 mistake that lead to accidents most often, along with tips on how to make sure you avoid them yourself.

Source: GMAC Insurance

Multi-tasking While Driving – Driving Tip: When You Turn the Car On, Turn the Gadgets Off. No matter how busy your day is, when you’re on the road, focus only on driving. Catch up on other activities later and you’ll avoid unnecessary accidents.

Following Too Closely – Driving Tip: One Thousand One, One Thousand Two. Leave a two-second cushion between you and the vehicle ahead – it could save your bumper and your life. Make sure to double or triple that time when the weather is bad or the pavement is slick.

Failure to Yield on a Left-Hand Turn – Driving Tip: Check the Flow Before You Go. Look at the street you are turning into to make sure that no vehicles or pedestrians are in your path.

Incorrect Merging – Driving Tip: Yellow is for Yield. Accidents often occur when you are stuck behind a driver who interprets yield as stop. Don’t be the guilty party. Use the ramp as a means for merging into traffic, not causing it.

Backing Up – Driving Tip: Look Over Your Shoulder. Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear. Don’t rely mirrors alone. Look over your shoulder before backing up.

GMAC Insurance has an online written driving test with questions taken from state test across the country. A report on the 2010 test shows that fully 1 in 5 licensed drivers would not pass a written driving test if taken today.

The 2010 GMAC Insurance National Drivers Test released today found that nearly 1 in 5 licensed drivers – roughly 38 million Americans – would not pass a written drivers test exam if taken today. Kansas drivers ranked first in the nation (82.3 percent average score); New York drivers ranked last (70 percent average score).

Take the GMAC online drivers test and see how you score. You can also find state averages for this year, as well as previous years.



Motorweek Uses CarChip to Measure Benefits of Eco-Driving Behaviors

The CarChip Pro was previously reviewed here on Fuelishness!

Since then we’ve been selling CarChip Pros to eco-conscious motorists, cautious parents of young drivers, commercial fleet operators looking to reduce risk, and even some government agencies exploring technologies to help reduce green house gas (GHG) emissions.

Each of our customers had one thing in common – all were looking for an inexpensive and versatile piece of hardware that can provide valuable insight into driving behavior.   (You can read all about it and order one here, and if you are a FuelClinic member you’ll enjoy a generous $20 discount per unit. See details on the order form)

Recently found by a friend of FuelClinic – a segment of Motorweek that covers the benefits of fuel efficient driving (eco-driving) and they too are using a CarChip (older version) to compare results of two very different driving styles:

This clip from Motorweek proves there’s no absolute need to change your car if you want to save $$ and get better mileage. Simply altering how you drive can make an impact… in some people’s case, a significant one.



A first? Texting while driving leads to arrest…

…the driver also had a suspended license, so not exactly arrested only for texting.

Source: Union Leader (New Hampshire)

A Massachusetts man may be the first person in the state to be arrested for texting behind the wheel, which became illegal Jan. 1.

Lt. Gary Fisher said Stephen Judd, 20, of Dracut, Mass., was texting on his phone while traveling down Bridge Street on Monday morning, in plain sight of an officer. Officers later learned Judd was driving with a suspended license, he said…

…”It might be a possible deterrent and put some common sense in the driver’s head,” Drisko said. “Hopefully, it does. It is going to be in the next decade that you might see it be a nationwide federal law, because states all across are popping it in. It’s going to become a national issue.”

…”We’ve got to get the message out that this is a serious highway safety issue,” Adkins said. “It’s hard to enforce. It’s a habit. Kids see their parents doing it, it’s something a lot of teens have been raised on, watching Mom and Dad texting, but the best message is simply hang up and drive.”

The federal government has previously banned texting-while-driving for all federal employees, and in January of this year extended that ban to cover commercial truck and bus drivers.

Last year a study released by VirginiaTech Transportation Institute found that truck drivers who were texting were 23 times more at risk of a “crash or near crash event” than “nondistracted driving.” (Source: SafeTeens.com)

A recently released study (PDF) by the VirginiaTech Transportation Institute found that truck drivers who were texting were 23 times more at risk of a “crash or near crash event” than “nondistracted driving.” As per talking on a cell phone, the same study found no increased risk for truck drivers and 1.3 times the risk for car drivers. There was considerably more risk associated with dialing while driving. The institute’s Richard Hanowski acknowledges that the numbers are likely to be different with car drivers. As reported by CNET’s Jennifer Guevin, the study also found that “texting took a driver’s focus away from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds–enough time…to travel the length of a football field at 55 mph.”

Many states have laws already banning texting-while-driving, and the trend seems to be spreading as awareness of the danger spreads.

What do you think about texting-while-driving laws? What about broader distracted driving laws that may impact your use of any gadget that takes your attention from the road? Add you comment here, or join the conversation over at our Facebook page.



[Video] Efficient Driving: Anticipating Traffic



Should eco-driving be part of driver’s education?

As awareness of the benefits of eco-driving habits builds in the US and around the world, there is also a growing interest in incorporating eco-driving techniques in early drivers education courses.

Until recently, professional eco-driving training has been a specialty course provided to already-experienced drivers, often as a work-related program for professional fleet drivers in an effort to reduce company fuel expenses and reduce preventable accidents.

Several studies done in the last 10 years indicate a direct connection between efficient drivers and those drivers with fewer preventable accidents.

One internal study at a major US-based trucking company indicated that their top fuel-efficient drivers were squarely in the top percentile of drivers with the fewest preventable accidents. It was also found that their drivers who routinely drove in an inefficient manner were among those drivers with the greatest number of preventable accidents.

How are eco-drivers safer drivers?

By practicing eco-driving techniques motorists maintain a high level of awareness to traffic patterns and the flow of vehicles around and ahead of the driver, allowing the driver to plan to minimize the loss of momentum while operating their vehicle safely and efficiently.

Eco-driving motorists are encouraged to “de-couple” emotionally from the circumstances of normal traffic, focusing instead on a competition between “themselves and the gas pump” verses jockeying for position with other drivers around them.

By limiting the top-speed and maintaining generous following-distances eco-drivers give themselves extra time to react to unexpected changes, providing additional decision making time and a greater likelihood of maintaining control in evasive maneuvers.

This correlation between efficient driving and safe driving creates an opportunity to apply measurable indicators to driver safety.

In the past an individual driver’s skill and risk was measured by referring to DMV records to count number and severity of traffic citations,  or by referencing insurance records to measure the number and severity of traffic accidents on record. “Defensive driver” insurance discounts are provided to drivers who have had fewer accidents and fewer citation – without any real data to determine if the driver is truly driving in a safe and skilled manner – or has just been lucky.

With the advent of inexpensive on-board driver-behavior data-logging devices (like the CarChip Pro) we can build software systems (like FuelClinic) that are designed to analyse real-world driving behavior based on actual data. With the proper training and monitoring programs in place, this driving data can be processed in near-real-time with timely reporting in an on-going effort to improve both fuel efficiency and safety records.


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Several states are currently working to add eco-driving to drivers education, including Michigan and Florida, with RFPs seeking qualified training materials to be added to their existing driver training programs.

What do you think? Should eco-driving techniques be added to the existing driver’s ed program in your state? Comments are welcome below, or join the discussion over at our Facebook Community.



Driving Tips to Improve your Car’s Fuel Efficiency

February 25, 2010 · Filed Under Community, Driver Training, Eco-Driving, FuelClinic, Its Up To You · 1 Comment 

Despite the ongoing debate on climate change, drivers across the world agree that fuel efficiency is the wave of the future. Car manufacturers are touting their eco principles and how their models will save you dollars at the pump. Meanwhile, governments are also requiring more transparency when it comes to green car ratings. In 2008, Australia began requiring stickers on all new cars that display their fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

However, fuel efficiency isn’t all about the car – some of it has to do with the way you drive. In an effort to call attention to fuel efficient driving habits, Peugeot automobiles in Europe is sponsoring a revolutionary eco-driving competition, The Peugeot Eco Cup, to promote awareness of how your driving style can impact fuel efficiency.

The Peugeot Eco Cup is a competition, for those with a new or used Peugeot, to showcase their eco-driving skills. Competitors from 18 countries will drive the 400 kilometres between Paris and Geneva (the same distance as driving from Perth to the port city of Albany) on as little diesel fuel as possible. The drive must be completed within 36 hours and the route includes a number of key cites that are symbolic to the Peugeot brand.

Each country will have a team that includes drivers for each of the four fuel efficient diesel models in the Peugeot line. The aim will be for competitors to make the trip burning as little fuel as possible by employing whatever “eco-driving” strategies they can.

While you might not be signed up to the Eco Cup Challenge, you can get your hands on one of the hot fuel efficient diesel models at a Sydney Peugeot dealer. There are also a number of driving strategies that you can take away to help improve the fuel efficiency of vehicle. Sensible eco-driving can make a difference to the environment and to your hip pocket.

Consider these fuel saving driving tips:

Pump up – Ensure your car’s tyres are inflated properly, inspecting them at least every two months. Underinflated tyres can decrease fuel efficiency by over 3%, and reduce their tread life, requiring them to be replaced sooner.

Switch Off – Turn off the air conditioning, especially when driving in the city. Air conditioning and other electronics consume energy which increases the need for fuel. This can decrease your vehicle’s fuel efficiency by as much as 25%.

Don’t Idle – If you stop for more than 20-30 seconds, turn off the engine. Restarting your engine actually consumes less fuel than idling for long periods of time.

Slow Down – Drive the speed limit, especially on highways. Driving faster will increase your engine’s RPMs which uses up more fuel – slowing down by 10 kilometres per hour can reduce petrol consumption by as much as 10%.

Steady on – Maintain a constant speed and avoid frequent braking and acceleration as this increases the fuel consumption of your vehicle. If your car has a speed regulator or cruise control, use it to maintain a constant speed. When slowing down, use engine stopping instead of applying the brakes to stretch your take even further.

The Eco Cup Challenge starts in Paris on 4 March 2010.



The Distracted Driver: Looking Away From Road Main Factor in Crashes and Near-Misses

From Ford “Driving Skills for Life“:

Independent research based on real-world studies, that’s where drivers are monitored in their own cars rather than in labs, show that looking away from the road is the main factor associated with crashes and near-misses. Another study by NHTSA/Virginia Technology Transportation Institute (VTTI) found that “dialing a handheld device” had a higher risk compared to “just driving,” while “talking/listening on a cell phone” did not statistically differ from risks associated with “just driving.” VTTI summarized their findings by stating that it’s rare that drivers are involved in a crash when their eyes are on the roadway, regardless of any cognitive demand they may be under. Another point to keep in mind is that although there was explosive growth of cell phone subscriptions in the U.S. during the last 15 years, there has been a decline in crash rates which may indicate that drivers choose to engage in tasks when they judge the driving conditions are least demanding.

More than likely this is already apparent to most drivers, but indicates the importance of human-systems integration design in new vehicles so that drivers “know” where their controls and displays are without having to hunt for them.

What impact does this have on add-on gadgets that require the driver to take his/her eyes off of the road to gather information? GPS navigation suckered to your windshield? After-market eco-driving instrumentation or “apps” with charts and graphs indicating how well you are driving?



VIDEO: Eco-Driving Techniques

In Europe, eco-driving is fairly popular as a means to save money and reduce emissions. Fuel costs are much higher than here in the US – fuel is heavily taxed and the per-gallon cost equivalent is $6 to $8 per gallon.

In Europe fuel is usually sold by the Liter and the standard of fuel economy is “Liters per 100 kilometers”, or “L/100km”. It’s an opposite system from of our MPG rating – where a higher MPG (“more miles per gallon”) is better, in Europe the opposite is true – the fewer liters per 100 kilometers (“L/100KM”) the better… so the lower the fuel economy rating you’ll hear in this video, the better.

The EU has decided to partner with Europia, an energy-giant in the EU, to continue to make motorists aware of the benefits of using eco-driving techniques.

We invite all motorists to start using FuelClinic.com to track their mileage using our easy online tools. FuelClinic is built to accommodate a variety of standards of measure, including MPG and L/100km, and a variety of currencies and other local preferences.



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