Fuelishness! -- The FuelClinic.com Blog

Prepare to spend $700 more this year on gasoline

March 10, 2011 · Filed Under Eco-Driving, FuelClinic, Motivations, Saving Money, Twitter · Comment 

Source: Reuters

The average U.S. household will spend about $700 more for gasoline in 2011 than it spent last year, bringing total motor fuel expenses up 28 percent to $3,235, based on an annual pump price of $3.61 a gallon, the department’s Energy Information Administration said.

Retail gasoline prices soared by 38 cents over the last three weeks to $3.52 per gallon, according to the EIA, because of high crude oil costs due to unrest in the Middle East.

Read the rest



Fuelishness! Feed: Gas Prices Up Despite Glut of Oil; EcoMode for Ford Focus; UCR Eco-Driving Study Started; Instant Feedback Important for Eco-Driving; “Grey Fleet” Eco-Driving Off-set Reduced Mileage Allowance; Auto Insurance Costs $84,000

Here’s a quick fill-up:

  • Retail gas prices rise in spite of supply glut and reduced Middle East tensions — Retail gasoline prices have continued to rise in California and around the rest of the U.S., in spite of falling oil prices, mounting optimism about Middle East unrest, and U.S. fuel supplies so plentiful that their like has not been seen in 17 years.
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  • All-New Ford Focus Features EcoMode to Help Drivers Perfect Eco-Driving Techniques — “The foot of the driver has one of the biggest impacts on real-world fuel economy of a vehicle and was the starting point for the development of EcoMode,” said Thomas Schick, an engineer with the Ford of Germany Core Vehicle Integration team who helped design the software. “This is a useful tool that creates awareness between personal behavior and fuel consumption and offers up hints on how to improve. Applying those hints and recommendations is all up to the driver.”
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  • UCR study focuses on ‘eco-driving’ — The UCR Engineering Center for Environmental Research & Technology, along with researchers from UC Berkeley and UC Davis, are conducting the study with Earthrise Technology Inc. to determine what driving behaviors lead to the least fuel consumption.
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  • Using Instant Feedback for “Eco-Driving” — Eco-driving technology and behaviors can be implemented immediately, with little cost and investment in transportation infrastructure, supporters of the technology say. It’s also a simple way of reducing transportation-related carbon emissions. The final report is expected to be published in the spring of 2012.
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  • Fleet Hero grey fleet management award — Paul Jackson, managing director of The Miles Consultancy, says there are side-benefits for staff in smarter driving courses…Jackson says fuel consumption and emissions can be cut by nearly a quarter when drivers use eco-driving techniques of reading the road farther ahead, cutting out aggressive braking and slowing at roundabouts, rather than stopping, if the road is clear.
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  • Study: Average lifetime car insurance costs estimated at $84,000 — Insurance.com based its analysis on quotes from drivers who first purchased insurance at age 21, married at 27, briefly insured two teens and stopped driving at age 75. The average premium includes drivers with all types of claims, accidents and other driving histories.


“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.



Incentivizing Drivers to Conserve Fuel – Bob Stanton, Polk County Florida

Bob Stanton is one of the most forward-thinking fleet managers in the country. He runs the Polk County, Florida government fleet, and has been referenced here in Fuelishness! and BrightFleet.com several times for his experience implementing a highly successful eco-driving program in Polk County. Today he gives a insight into his motivations and successful execution of his program in an article published at Government Fleets called “Incentivizing Drivers to Conserve Fuel“.

By only reading industry publications, one might presume fuel conservation success can be achieved by technology alone through the use of alternative fuels, hybrid, or all-electric vehicles. The Clean Air Act of 1990 certainly steered governments in that direction and now, 20 years later, it’s clear that legislation failed to achieve tangible results. Governments at all levels nationwide have collectively invested billions in technology, which at best has yielded marginal fuel conservation success, and at worst, the technology, hardware, and vehicles have been scrapped at enormous cost. A negative return on investment (ROI) is certainly hard to justify for any organization, public or private.

Mr. Stanton makes a great point, that the focus on a technology-based approach to fuel efficient fleets has nearly completely ignored the contributions of the vehicle operator to the safe and efficient use of the vehicle.

…In summer 2008, Polk County went where few other fleets have gone — to its drivers. All studies show the largest single contributor to fuel use and/or conservation is the driver. Polk County decided the quickest route to meaningful fuel conservation was to target driver behavior and modify it where possible.

A three-pronged approach was used to modify driver behavior. First, the maximum travel speed of the County’s on-highway vehicles was limited to 55 mph. An in-house Eco-Driver training program was developed to train, reinforce, and promote driving habits proven to reduce fuel consumption and assure driver buy-in, and the County added an incentive program to allow employees to share monetarily in their own conservation success.

There are numerous studies, from reputable government and industry sources around the word, that have shown a direct relationship to operator performance and fuel efficiency, with additional benefit to driver & general road safety.

As noted above, the driver is the greatest single factor influencing fuel economy. According to Bridgestone’s Real Answers magazine, up to 35 percent of a vehicle’s mpg is directly attributable to the driver.

The County endeavored to modify behind-the-wheel driver behavior by developing an in-house “Eco Driver” training program to educate drivers about the simple driving techniques that result in tangible mpg improvements.

Bob Stanton’s own project has netted Polk County significant benefits in fuel efficiency and accident reductions:

Over the two years since implementation, Polk County achieved the following results:

  • Fuel consumption reduced by 13.4 percent, or 436,000 gallons.
  • Reduced 6.2 million lbs. of carbon.
  • Reduced preventable accidents by 22 percent.
  • Crash damage severity reduced by 35 percent.

These results are irrefutable. The overall hard dollar savings seen by Polk County due to these incentives have exceeded $1.5 million. The cost of the program is minimal. Beyond the $800 decal cost and the one-hour training time, the program has cost the County nothing.

Even the incentive payouts came at little cost. The incentive payouts originated from dollars saved versus dollars spent.

As a result of its success, the Polk County School Board adopted the 55-mph restriction in May 2010 and the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is currently studying the program for statewide adoption.

As oil prices continue to rise to pre-economic-collapse prices at the same time austerity measures are being discussed at state and federal levels, eco-driving is a proven method that fleet drivers and average motorists can take immediate action to see real reductions in both fuel consumption and accident rates.



Eco-driving Motivations

Between 2009 and 2010 we ran a poll on the homepage of FuelClinic.com asking for feedback as to “what motivated you to become interested in eco-driving”. Tonight while going through some materials on my mess of folders on my hard-drive, I found the chart I created of the results. Thing is that I don’t think I’ve posted it previously. (A quick google of the site didn’t turn it up either.) So I’ll post it now.

The results: “Saving Money” was the response of nearly 58% of the 919 respondents, followed by “Reducing Foreign Oil Imports” at nearly 25%, leaving roughly 16% of respondents indicating that “Reducing CO2 Emissions” was their prime motivator.

Eco-driving is a great way to save money, it’s free and easy to do, works in any vehicle – no matter the fuel source, and there are some excellent online training courses becoming available online and at some driving schools. (I know of several courses currently in development, and will blog about them when they are online.)

But what’s also interesting is the strong desire among people who took the poll to reduce foreign oil imports – even above “saving money”.

Most of the time eco-driving is discussed it is in the context of being “good for the environment”, and surely it is. No matter what side of the climate change argument you park your car on, judging from this dataset you’d have to acknowledge that many eco-driving initiatives may be missing the mark by painting it solely as an environmental issue.

Eco-driving has demonstrated significant results in improving driver safety, reducing fuel consumption, reducing emissions and pollution for those drivers who practice the techniques as part of their normal driving. Fleets with eco-driving programs have demonstrated considerable cost savings and improvements in safety thanks to the sheer size and organization of fleet management. But I still do not believe that eco-driving has had any impact on reducing oil imports or reducing the cost of fuel – simply because it hasn’t been used widely enough. We need to convince a significant portion of the driving public that it’s in their interest to make these simple changes.

I think that painting eco-driving with a singular “green” brush may actually be working against the ultimate goals of eco-driving interests, and turn-off a vast percentage of the motoring public who might otherwise give it a try. It’s this arguing between political and social “camps” that keeps the status-quo in place instead of allowing good ideas to be recognized as good ideas. It’s also clear that eco-driving appeals to a wider audience than the “green” camp, and the signal sent in these alternate directions needs to be amplified and repeated.

One estimate I read recently (will link to source if I can find it again) put the realistic potential savings at about $800/yr per eco-driving daily commuter. That’s at least a car payment, maybe a mortgage payment in some parts, but is it “enough” to convince your average motorist that it’s “worth it”? I don’t know. With all of the bad news about the rising cost of gas and oil – some experts expect $5 gas in 2011 or 2012 – it’s likely more people will seek out ways they can reduce the amount of fuel they use.

I’ve been rambling a bit, so I’ll turn it over to whoever is interested enough to tell us what you think.



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’s Study: Eco-Driving Uncovered – Introduction

Last month Fiat Motors released the results of their eco:Drive system study of 9 million journeys by 42,000 European drivers. I’ve spent the last few days reading and re-reading it, and it’s so good that I’m going to post sections of it in an on-going series here at Fuelishness!

If you’d like to download and read the whole report (and you should if you are at all interested in driver behavior modification), you can find it at the Fiat website for download.

Look for Part One shortly.



Video: Oil Could Push to $110 – According to Experts

December 31, 2010 · Filed Under FuelClinic, LinkedIn, Oil & Politics, Oil Industry, Oil Refining, Twitter · Comment 

Back to back bad news about fuel prices in the New Year.

It’s “certainly possible” that the price of a barrel of oil will push above $100 a barrel, Daryl Guppy, CEO of Guppytraders.com, told CNBC Thursday. “Once you move above $100, then $110 is just clear freeway straight to that level,” Guppy added.

Watch the video here.



Ex-Shell president sees $5 gas in 2012

Source:  CNNMoney.com

The former president of Shell Oil, John Hofmeister, says Americans could be paying $5 for a gallon of gasoline by 2012.

In an interview with Platt’s Energy Week television, Hofmeister predicted gasoline prices will spike as the global demand for oil increases.

“I’m predicting actually the worst outcome over the next two years which takes us to 2012 with higher gasoline prices,” he said.

Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst with Oil Price Information Service says Americans will see gasoline prices hit the $5 a gallon mark in the next decade, but not by 2012.

“That wolf is out there and it’s going to be at the door…I agree with him that we’ll see those numbers at some point this decade but not yet.” Kloza said.

Gasoline prices have been steadily rising. Last week, gas prices crossed the $3 mark for the first time since October 2008. According to AAA figures, prices are up 4% from a month ago and 16% from the $2.585 average a year ago.

Read the entire original story.



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



Winner of the 1st $50 FuelClinic.com Eco-Driver Stimulus Package Announced

December 12, 2010 · Filed Under Community, Eco-Driving, FuelClinic, FuelClinic.com, Fuelishness!, LinkedIn, Twitter · Comment 

Congratulations to Kevin Luljack – he’s the winner of the 1st $50 FuelClinic.com Eco-Driver Stimulus Package fuel card for posting his comment on the FuelClinic Facebook wall. Another winner will be chosen next Sunday, so post your thoughts on our Facebook wall and ask your friends to “Like” your post.



Car or computer? How transport is becoming more connected

Source: BBC News

Italian carmaker Fiat has been compiling data from the Blue&Me navigation systems installed on many of its cars over a six-month period.

It may be the largest such data harvest done by a major carmaker.

“We can extract a number of data – on how the pedals are used, petrol consumption, braking,” says Candido Peterlini, vice-president for product development at Fiat.

It developed eco:Drive from the data collected from 420,000 car journeys of 5,700 drivers in five countries.

Cars with this function allow the driver to download data about their journeys to a USB stick, which they can plug into their home computer.

It will tell them how to improve their driving – for example, by changing gears less.

Mr Peterlini says the plan is to make this response instant soon, via the on-board computer – so that a driver gets told how to improve their driving while they are cruising through town – and then integrate it into live traffic maps.

“The plan is to tell you the most eco way to drive, by changing your behaviour, taking in traffic conditions and the structure of the road” such as how steep it is, Mr Peterlini says.

Read the rest here



Fuelishness Feed! Nissan’s ECO Pedal; Fuel Prices Unlikely to Fall; And the Stingiest Car Is…; Just 99 MPG?; Green Truck Summit

It’s been a while since we’ve had a Fuelishness! Feed. What a better day than Thanksgiving to gorge on some eco-driving news:

  • Nissan Licenses ECO Pedal Technology — “When the ECO Pedal system is on, each time the driver exerts excess pressure on the acceleration pedal, the system counteracts in advance with a pedal push-back control mechanism (tactile indicator) to support drivers for more effective, fuel-efficient driving. Studies show that effective eco-driving behavior with ECO Pedal drive assist contributes to improve fuel efficiency from 5 to 10% (based on internal measurement) in many driving conditions,” Nissan informs.
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  • Fuel Prices Unlikely to Fall Anytime Soon, says AA — “In the short-term, fuel prices will inflict more pain on drivers and business,” says Luke Bosdet, a fuel expert at the AA. “It may well be an ordeal we have to endure before a recovered economy restores a less volatile fuel market, though commodity speculation continues to cast a shadow.”
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  • And The Stingiest Car Is … — The Volkswagen Golf Blue-E-Motion. The plucky little electric car, with 115 bhp, a top speed of 86mph and 0-62mph time of 11.8 seconds won the race. “It’s a testimony to the abilities of the Golf Blue-E-Motion that it won despite the fact I’d never competed in any sort of eco-driving challenge before,” said Jim Holder, driver of the winning car.
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  • Just 99 mpg: Isn’t it Time to Focus on More Than Plug-ins? — Significant and cost-effective improvements in fuel economy were also suggested and supported very recently at the LA Auto Show by several automakers, particularly Hyundai which is forecasting industry-leading plans for improving fleet fuel economy without increasing vehicle costs. Similarly, the X-Prize also demonstrated that 100 mpg is achievable without the need for either hybrid or plug-in technologies.
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  • Green Truck Summit 2011 Offers Glimpse into Future — “Our industry is in a very exciting period of evolution,” says Doyle Sumrall, NTEA senior director of business development. “As innovative manufacturers continue to develop new green technology, fleets and the businesses who support them must understand how and when to use that technology to improve their operations and environmental impact. The Green Truck Summit is a unique gathering of technical experts, thought leaders and peers who all share their knowledge to provide solutions for today’s issues, as well as guidance into the future.”


December 2010 Eco-Driver Stimulus Packages

I’m reminded daily by users of the site about the positive impact FuelClinic.com has had in their lives. I’m thankful for each one of you who has contributed your attention, ideas, time, and data.

We’re always looking for new ways to attract more people to the website, and to an idea so simple and effective that’s it’s helping thousands of people save hundreds of dollars, and lead safer and more enjoyable lives.

We’ve come up with a simple awareness-building idea… we want you to post your eco-driving story on our Facebook wall, and we will select one person each week in the month of December to receive a $50 “Eco-Driver Stimulus Package” gift card that can be used to buy gasoline, or anything else wherever a Visa card is accepted.

Tell us what you think of eco-driving, how it has worked out for you, and what you hope to achieve with it.



Ecopreneurist : Veteran’s Day Special: 5 Veteran-Owned Green Businesses

A nice surprise in my morning Google Alerts on Friday, as FuelClinic is included in an article about 5 Veteran-Owned green businesses at Ecopreneurist.

Veteran’s Day usually involves lots of flag-waving, parades, and expressions of gratitude for military service… all well-deserved by those who dedicate a portion of their lives to the armed forces. We tend to focus on the concepts of national security and defense in these celebrations… but, equally as important, is the spirit of serving the greater good that these men and women often carry with them after separating from active duty…

Read the rest



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.



Google Robot Car is Everywhere!

Even more for you Google Robot Car fans…

The Google blog post says that its autopilot vehicles have logged more than 140,000 miles to date, which presumably means the project has been going on for quite a while. It sounds cool, but I’m unclear why it’s apparently been secret until now, or why Schmidt spoke so cryptically and so recently of laws restricting the roads to self-driving cars without mentioning that Google was building them.

Google isn’t the only outfit working on this idea–a few months ago, I went for a very brief ride in a self-driving, self-parking Volkswagen developed at Stanford University. And the basic idea has been fodder for magazines such as Popular Mechanics and Popular Sciencefor decades. Herewith, a few examples from the past seventy-seven years ago–none of which seem to have gotten as far as Google’s experiments.

Read more



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



205mph Electric Hybrid Supercar from Jaguar

From The Daily Telegraph:

A sexy new 205mph Jaguar supercar that blends sporting looks and performance with the latest ‘green’ technology is set to rock the prestigious Paris Motor Show when it is officially unveiled today.

The new two-seater Jaguar C-X75 is a £200,000 electric hybrid vehicle uses hi-tech jet-turbine know-how from the aviation industry to sprint from rest to 62 mph in just 3.5 seconds and up to 100mph in just 5.5 seconds…

The new Jaguar dispenses with a conventional internal combustion engine.

Instead, powered by a lithium ion battery charged from the domestic mains, the new Jaguar can run with zero-emissions for up to 68 miles on four electric motors – one of which drives each of four wheels.

Then it can harness two rear-mounted super-efficient gas-turbines to generate the extra electric power it needs to give it an extended range of 560miles – enough to get it from London to Berlin on a single 60 litre tank-full.

And that is with minimal emissions of just 28g/km of carbon dioxide – the greenhouse gas blamed for global warning and against which all UK cars are now taxed…

Read the rest (and see more great photos of this car).



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



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