Fuelishness! -- The FuelClinic.com Blog

Google Cars Drive Themselves, in Traffic

From: The Spec

Robot drivers react faster than humans, have 360-degree perception and do not get distracted, sleepy or intoxicated, the engineers argue. They speak in terms of lives saved and injuries avoided — more than 37,000 people died in car accidents in the United States in 2008. The engineers say the technology could double the capacity of roads by allowing cars to drive more safely while closer together. Because the robot cars would eventually be less likely to crash, they could be built lighter, reducing fuel consumption. But of course, to be truly safer, the cars must be far more reliable than, say, today’s personal computers, which crash on occasion and are frequently infected.

The Google research program using artificial intelligence to revolutionize the automobile is proof that the company’s ambitions reach beyond the search engine business. The program is also a departure from the mainstream of innovation in Silicon Valley, which has veered toward social networks and Hollywood-style digital media.

During a half-hour drive beginning on Google’s campus 35 miles south of San Francisco last Wednesday, a Prius equipped with a variety of sensors and following a route programmed into the GPS navigation system nimbly accelerated in the entrance lane and merged into fast-moving traffic on Highway 101, the freeway through Silicon Valley.

It drove at the speed limit, which it knew because the limit for every road is included in its database, and left the freeway several exits later. The device atop the car produced a detailed map of the environment.

The car then drove in city traffic through Mountain View, stopping for lights and stop signs, as well as making announcements like “approaching a crosswalk” (to warn the human at the wheel) or “turn ahead” in a pleasant female voice. This same pleasant voice would, engineers said, alert the driver if a master control system detected anything amiss with the various sensors.

The car can be programmed for different driving personalities — from cautious, in which it is more likely to yield to another car, to aggressive, where it is more likely to go first.

Read the rest



Jersey Turnpike Buys System to Predict When You Will Be Sitting in Traffic

Via Bloomberg

The New Jersey Turnpike Authority said it hopes to begin alerting motorists to traffic jams — 10 minutes before they occur.

The agency, which manages the two main toll roads in the most densely populated U.S. state, approved the awarding of a $652,000 contract to En Pointe Technologies Inc.

The El Segundo, California-based company has a computer system that is designed to give drivers an early heads-up on developing traffic jams, to allow them more time to detour away from congestion, Brian Gorman, director of technology, told members of the authority’s board at their regular meeting today.

The system was tested on the 148-mile (238-kilometer) New Jersey Turnpike and the 173-mile Garden State Parkway, which stretches from Cape May to the New York state line. It predicted traffic with at least 90 percent accuracy, Gorman said. Motorists will be alerted to potential problems through electronic signage on the highways.

“We do have the ability to prevent congestion disruption,” Gorman said.

I have written similar software for the DC metro area, and it predicts traffic jams most Mondays through Fridays from 7:30am to 9:00am, and again from 3:30pm to 5:00pm.



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.



Compendium Software Systems to Provide Fuel Conservation Technology for Trial Use on City of Sanford Vehicles

SANFORD, Fla. (July 12, 2010) — Compendium Software Systems, LLC was recently awarded a contract to install its FuelClinic.com® Fleet System fuel conservation and risk reduction technology on select City of Sanford vehicles on a trial basis.

Michael Bragg, president of Compendium Software Systems, LLC, said the Sanford Economic Development Office played a big role in shaping the agreement.

Compendium Software Systems’ FuelClinic.com® Fleet System closely records real-world driver behavior and provides data analysis and reporting.

“FuelClinic.com® Fleet System provides a fuel efficiency report card for drivers and vehicles that will enable the city’s fleet of vehicles to achieve maximum fuel efficiency while reducing fleet risk,” Bragg explained. “The goal is to show how FuelClinic.com® Fleet System can help the City save money by reducing the fuel consumption of normal fleet operations.”

Bragg said the trial project will be conducted in two phases. Each phase will include data collection and analysis, he said.

Bragg said installation of the monitoring equipment will commence in July.

Compendium Software Systems LLC is a client company of the UCF Business Incubation Program and headquartered at the Incubator on West First Street in downtown Sanford. Compendium specializes in advanced information systems for use in driver behavior analysis.



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.



Set These Road Rules With Your Teen Driver Today

Every year nearly 5,000 young drivers are killed in automobile accidents in the US, and a staggering 300,000 more are injured or maimed. Car accidents account for nearly 40% of the total number of deaths for teens ages 15 to 19, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

With summer starting, it’s a great time to set or reinforce some basic safety skills and guidelines for your teen driver:

Source: Ford Driving Skills for Life

School is almost out, summer will soon be here, and teens have a license to drive. Unfortunately, with the arrival of summer comes riskier teen driving behavior. No school means more time for cruising, piling lots of friends into Mom’s car, and later nights.

Parents! Talk to your teen about summer driving and set some rules. Here are a few to get you started.

  • Buckle up! – Remind your teenager again and again how important that single little click can be. Statistics show that seat belt usage is lowest among teenagers, even though seat belts continue to be proven as the No. 1 life-saving device in accidents.
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  • Don’t drink and drive – You may assume your teen knows this, but it’s worth a sit-down talk. Make sure your teen knows the dangers of driving under the influence – or getting into a vehicle with someone who’s been drinking.
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  • No text zone – Remind your teen driver to avoid distractions such as texting, loud music and any activities that take their eyes away from the road for extended periods of time.
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  • Passenger Limit – Always set a limit on the number of passengers allowed in the car.
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  • Set a curfew – Make sure your teens know when you expect them home, and make sure they know it’s not debatable.

Parent-Teen Driving Contracts

Consider creating a Parent-Teen Driving Contract with your teen drivers. Parent-Teen Driving Contracts help establish your expectations with your teen driver, where driving privledges are dependant on safe driving behaviors you designate as important to your family. Research by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (PDF) indicates that parents are the key to enforcing good driving behavior in young drivers.

Parents are big influencers of their kids’ behavior. The more involved they are, the less likely kids are to engage in all types of risky activities associated with the teen years.

The Success of Graduated Drivers’ Licensing Laws

Graduated Drivers’ Licensing (GDL) is becoming law in many states. GDL’s generally restricts nighttime, expressway, and unsupervised driving during initial stages, but lifts these restrictions with time and further testing of the individual, eventually concluding with the individual attaining a full drivers’ license. In states where GDL’s are required, accident fatalities for teen drivers has dropped by up to 30%. Even if you do not live in a state with a current GDL law, you can create your own Parent-Teen Driving Contract based on the same principles that make GDL’s successful.

It’s important to talk to your teen about the rules of the road, to clearly set your expectations of them, and outline the consequences of failing to meet your expectations.



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.



Eco-Driving Research Document Library Launched

A quick note to announce the addition of the “Eco-Driving Research Document Library“.

Source: FuelClinic.com

We’re making a selection of our reference collection available online, gathered together in one place, to aid in public research and education regarding eco-driving initiatives and benefits, as well as related subject materials. This collection will grow in size and functionality as time permits. When available, we will link directly to the source for each document. If you would like to suggest a publication for this collection, please send details to feedback@fuelclinic.com.

Over the past few years of our own research we have collected hundreds of documents, whitepapers, presentations, and government reports from around the globe – all related to the topic I loosely refer to as “eco-driving”. Most of these resources are available scattered around the dusty corners of the internet, but were simply stumbled upon and would require expert Googling to find again. Other documents are being made available for the first time online via this library.

The current collection that we’ve placed online is a small sample of the total collection. As time permits we will continue to add select documents and other resources (like images and video) from our total collection to this online library, as well as add features like categories, “tags”, search, pagination, and comments.

We hope that this library will grow to be a valuable resource to anyone doing research on eco-driving and related topics.



Eight Million Miles, and a Million Dollars Later

Just a quick note to acknowledge another set of milestones for the FuelClinic.com community.

As of this week, FuelClinic.com Eco-Drivers have logged over eight million miles of driving.

As a group we’ve spent over a million dollars buying fuel, have saved somewhere in the neighborhood of $55,000 by improving our efficiency, cutting about 371,000 lbs. of GHG emissions.

While these are impressive numbers, there is a lot more work to do. As always, try to apply several of our efficiency-boosting driving tips in your daily commute to better your scores. And stay tuned.



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



The Power of Scale – Why Fuel Efficient Driving Matters in Commercial Fleets

A nice short video from the Environmental Defense Fund demonstrating the power of scale when applied to fuel efficient driving in commercial fleets.



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.


(Click image to add your vote to this poll)

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?



Seven Million Miles and $882,000 Dollars Later…

Our little eco-driving community here at FuelClinic.com continues to grow.

Today we crossed the seven-million-mile mark of real-world fuel data based from members of our free non-commercial version of the site. There have been over 31,000 receipts entered into our database, documenting the real-world fuel efficiency of nearly 4,000 vehicles. We have been averaging ~500 new receipts a week for the past few months.

As a group we’ve purchased over 310,000 gallons of fuel (US gallon equivalent) spending over $882,000 (US dollar equivalent) last year. At the same time – as a group – we’ve managed to IMPROVE our MPG a modest 5.38% – saving over $47,000 simply by tracking our fuel mileage and (hopefully) taking advantage of the efficient driving tips.

My goals for 2010 include providing better, more compelling online training materials that will help us bring that 5.38% efficiency improvement up closer to 10% or more. I will be looking for help, using my new connections through the fantastic UCF Business Incubator Program to find talented people that can help me pull this off.

The FuelClinic Dashboard will start looking a little different in the next few weeks as I slowly roll out some template changes. The tools will remain familiar and simple to use, but room will be added to provide driving tips directly in the dashboard, as well as other important information now spread around and hidden in the blog (unless you are searching for it) like our free reminder magnet offer.

Shortly we will begin creating “eco-driver communities” that you can choose to join – so you can track your progress along with others in your same community, and challenge other communities to improve their fuel efficiency for some good natured competition.

I’ll be adding a document library. Over the years I have amassed a large collection of studies, reports, documents, press clippings, and other materials that will be added to the members area – behind that “Research Area” link at the top that has remained inactive too long. There will also be simple report tools you can use to “dig” into aggregate data in the FuelClinic database, looking for trends related to site usage, community totals and standings, and other goodies.

Members will also have to option to sign-up for bi-weekly “performance reports” that will be emailed to you automatically once every two weeks, covering your stats for the last two weeks, grading your progress, and providing additional tips for improving your fuel mileage.

There are always “more plans” for this platform, but they’ll remain “in the bag” for now. I appreciate the time each of you has taken to manually input your fuel receipts to build this data set.

– Michael



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.



Gas Prices Steadily Climb Again – What Have We Done To Stop It?

Take a look at this graph of average gas prices courtesy of GasBuddy.com and you’ll see that prices continue to rebound from the “crash” of 2008… which shouldn’t be a shock to anyone.


Not much has changed as far as our “oil addiction” since the “crash”. Looking back, it seems that Cash for Clunkers was the only national attempt at dealing with oil’s monopoly since the collapse, and the merits of that program as an energy policy are laughable.

It took a global economic collapse to undercut the oil gouging, something we can not afford to repeat. (I continue to assert that the uncertainty of affordable fuels contributed to the economic tsunami that brought world markets to their knees that summer.)

What are we going to do to shift oil from a strategic political and economic weapon to just “another” commodity that must compete with alternative sources?

1. I’ve long been a proponent of Flex-Fuel vehicles, since they offer the simple option to use purely petroleum based gasoline or alternative alcohol-blended (up to 85%) gasoline replacement fuels. Manufacturers “promised” to add Flex-Fuel capabilities into much of their fleets by 2010, yet most only add the systems to the most inefficient models, taking “credit” for making their fleet more efficient instead. Having Flex-Fuel vehicles on the road in great numbers will be an incentive for stations to carry more alcohol-blends, and at the same time allow motorists to travel far and wide without worry that they won’t find a filling station specific to their vehicle while the network of supply is created by the opportunity to serve this demand.

2. Small efficient diesel engines are hot sellers in Europe – 50% of all new car sales across the pond are diesels. Why? Because they are clean, quiet, powerful, last a long time, and get upwards of 65 to 80 MPG every day of the week. Plus you can fuel them with bio-diesel, and reduce the amount of petroleum based diesel fuel. Again, you can travel far and wide, taking advantage of bio-diesel when available – an incentive for stations to carry the product. Since bio-diesel is made closer to home, distribution is cheaper, jobs are created locally, and competition controls costs.

3. Hybrids are great technology for getting slightly better mileage from a gallon of gas – but they are all still 100% petroleum-dependent. Flex-Fuel Electric or Diesel Electric hybrids would allow motorists to offset even more of their oil addiction to alternatives, not just kick the can down the road a little further.

4. 100% electric vehicles are still not a replacement for the family car in most cases. High costs, limited range, and long recharging times limit options and create a situation where drivers must change habits (and hardware) to participate. Plus there is the battery problem, making exotic metal ore addiction the replacement for oil addiction.

5. Conservation (aka: eco-driving) is first-aid remedy immediately available for free (better than free when you consider the money savings) available to everyone right now. With modest changes to your driving habits, you can increase your fuel mileage 5% to over 25% no matter what you prefer to drive (including Hummers and Hybrids). And while “ecodriving” sounds like “hypermiling” to some people, in fact eco-driving is easy, courteous, and safer driving. It does require you to pay attention to operating your car (shouldn’t you be?), but relieves you from the urge to compete against those other drivers around you, and instead compete against the gas pump.

In the end, as we approach the future still addicted to oil we limit our geopolitical power and remain at the mercy of markets we do not have much control over politically. We have been at war for years thanks to oil, with no end in sight. While our planets poorest nations are prime real-estate for several bio-fuel industries that could lead them from poverty to prosperity, the “powers that be” lobby and maneuver to protect their monopoly on your mobility.

What are you doing to make progress? What do you see as our future?



Configuring CarChip Pro for Hybrid Vehicles

I had a chance to test-drive the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid over the weekend. I connected one of our CarChip Pro data loggers to it to gather real-time data on speed, throttle position, engine load, and mass air flow. Unfortunately the CarChip Pro was not working properly with the Hybrid vehicle, and a quick inquiry to Davis Instruments revealed why, it needed to be configured specifically for a hybrid – or “Anomalous Vehicle” (something I was not aware of).

Here are the instructions for configuring a CarChip Pro for both the Toyota Prius, and the Ford Fusion Hybrid…

In the past we had issues with hybrids in general. However, we put a fix into the software that should allow the CarChip to work with Hybrids.

Below are directions on how to get the CC to work on hybrids. These were written for a Toyota, but it is the same for Ford, other than clicking on the Ford Hybrid option.

Because the Prius [and 2010Ford Fusion Hybrid] is a hybrid vehicle we must take special steps to configure the CarChip.

Open up the CarChip software with the CarChip device connected to the PC.

Go to the CarChip menu and choose “Set Anomalous Vehicle”. See Figure 1.


Following that select “Specific Exceptions”, then “Toyota Hybrid” then click “OK”. See Figure 2.

I’ll re-configure the CarChip Pro and test again the next time I get the chance. I’d like to hear from any existing CarChip Pro users who are using the device with a Hybrid. What has your experience been?



Oprah Show: Distracted Driving – America’s New Deadly Obsession

Oprah Winfrey is using her considerable influence to educate motorists to the growing dangers of distracted driving, a topic near to our hearts here at FuelClinic.

Millions of people text, talk or e-mail on their cell phones while driving—a recent survey finds that 71 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 49 admit they text or talk on the phone while they drive.

If you think you can call, text and drive at the same time, you cannot. That message you can’t wait to send could kill. Distracted driving is an epidemic that is sweeping through our country, claiming lives and destroying families.

On Monday, she aired an entire episode dedicated to her new cause. While you can’t find the full episode online, here is a short clip available at CNN.

We applaud Oprah along with the many professional driving educators, technology creators, and others working every day to make positive changes in this important effort.



Announcing: FuelClinic.com membership in Stuttgart’s “Cities for Mobility”

Today we are very pleased to announce FuelClinic.com membership in the Cities for Mobility network, created and coordinated by the city of Stuttgart, Germany to promote sustainable and efficient transport systems in the member cities.

Cities for Mobility” is a global network on all questions regarding urban mobility. The network is coordinated by the City of Stuttgart and promotes transnational cooperation between local governments, transportation companies, businesses, science and the civil society, with the aim of supporting the development of sustainable and efficient transport systems in the member cities.

“We want to warmly welcome FuelClinic.com as new member in the world wide network Cities for Mobility. The Coordination Office is more than delighted by your decision to join our network and we look forward to a fruitful cooperation with [you]”, wrote Isabelle Kübler from the office of Coordinator Network Cities for Mobility.

FuelClinic.com will provide member cities the ability to invigorate and measure their eco-driving and driver behavior improvement programs with free web-based eco-driving training materials, a voluntary web-based driver-efficiency analysis and reporting system, and increasing levels of technology support for promoting and measuring eco-driving behavior within their cities and communities.

FuelClinic.com was nominated for membership in this network by existing  member Projeto Melhorar, a Brazilian-based initiative to create sustainable transportation systems in South America’s largest country.



The Post-Crisis Consumer (John Gerzema @ TED)

John Gerzema says there’s an upside to the recent financial crisis — the opportunity for positive change. Speaking at TEDxKC, he identifies four major cultural shifts driving new consumer behavior and shows how businesses are evolving to connect with thoughtful spending.

13 trillion dollars in wealth has evaporated over the course of the last two years. We’ve questioned the future of capitalism. We’ve questioned the financial industry. We’ve looked at our government oversight. We’ve questioned where we’re going. And yet, at the same time, this very well may be a seminal moment in American history, an opportunity for the consumer to actually take control and guide us to a new trajectory in America.



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