Fuelishness! -- The FuelClinic.com Blog

Does Eco-Driving make you a safer driver?

Over at EcoModder there is a conversation asking “does hypermiling make you a safer driver“?

Hypermiling is a more extreme form of eco-driving, where the goal is to reduce fuel consumption to the lowest amount possible. Sometimes hypermilers make modifications to more than just their driving habits to accomplish their goals, they modify their cars aerodynamics, re-chip their vehicle computers, or use a variety of add-on technologies or fuel additives to help squeeze every yard from a gallon of fuel.

Sometimes hypermilers have been criticized for advocating certain techniques that do save fuel but may be illegal and dangerous – like rolling through stop-signs, or drafting large trucks. Most hypermilers do not engage in these kinds of techniques, realizing the cost of a ticket or accident is far costlier than any savings in fuel.

Eco-driving is distinct in that drivers do not generally make modifications to their vehicles, and abide by all of the “normal” rules of the road. Both techniques share many similar traits where drivers achieve a high degree of awareness of traffic patterns and timing of lights, as well as efficient acceleration with limited stopping. But hypermiling is generally considered the more extreme of the two, while eco-diving is more of an “every-mans” method for improving fuel mileage.

So, back to safety.

Several private fleet studies show that drivers with generally better fuel mileage rating are also among the safest drivers in large fleets. These same studies show that drivers who have the highest number preventable “incidents” are also drivers with the poorest fuel mileage scores. Most of these studies are done in larger commercial fleets that are understandably reticent to discuss actual accident rates publicly.

So there is a connection between fuel efficiency and safety. According to the current discussion at EcoModder, the same correlation appears to apply to those hypermilers who have commented so far.

What do you think?



Aggressive Driving Can Cost You 25%

June 26, 2011 · · Filed Under Do-It-Yourself, Eco-Driving, Saving Money · 1 Comment 



Junk in the Trunk

June 25, 2011 · · Filed Under Eco-Driving, Motivations, Reducing Emissions, Saving Money · Comment 



Five ways you can get better fuel mileage, starting right now…

Have you ever been driving along without a care in the world, then you glance down at the fuel gauge and notice that the needle is below the empty mark? You’ve forgotten to fill-up, and you are not sure how much gas is left in the tank… you know where the next gas station is, but it’s not very close…

You lift your foot off the gas pedal a little, slow to a more gingerly pace, coast up to stop lights just hoping that it will turn green before you have to stop, then you slowly accelerate trying to get every last quarter-mile from those last few quarts of gas sloshing around at the bottom of your tank.

Congratulations! You just became an instant eco-driver, no special training required.

But you don’t have to be motivated by the anxiety of being stranded at the side of the road in order to improve your fuel mileage considerably, and as often as you wanted to. The same “techniques” that you instinctively understood would help you with a near-empty fuel tank can also help you go much further on every gallon of gasoline you buy.

Here are the top five techniques that are proven to work on every vehicle.

  1. Accelerate Gradually – You don’t need to hold up traffic or drive like you left your coffee on the roof. Just accelerate more gradually than normal. Be the slowest off the line, and relax knowing that you are going to get to the next stoplight in about the same amount of time as everyone else.
  2. Leave Your Aggression Curbside – We’ve all done this. You are in a rush, you didn’t leave early enough to give yourself enough time to account for traffic, and traffic has been slow. You are tailgating the knucklehead in front of you hoping that he’ll move out of your way. The first chance you get you dart over to the fast lane and “make up time” with a little extra lead in your foot. You may think you’re making time, but studies show that drivers who time lights and traffic patterns arrive at their destinations sooner than drivers who drive aggressively. Relax, leave a few minutes early, stop jockeying for “position” with the cars around you, and you’ll find you arrive on time, in a better mood, and with more gas left in the tank.
  3. Avoid Stopping – Don’t try to tell Officer Friendly that you were saving gas by rolling through stop signs, they can’t be avoided. But the proper timing of lights and traffic patterns like smoothly merging into traffic can go a long way to helping you maintain your momentum. Any amount of momentum you can keep means less work needed to re-accelerate. Avoiding having to start from a total stop will save fuel every time. This takes a little bit of practice to get right, but with a little effort you’ll be negotiating traffic like a pro.
  4. Loose the Need For Speed – It’s simple physics. The drag on your vehicle increases with speed. The more drag, the more work your engine needs to do to maintain or increase that speed. Work = Fuel. Sure your speedometer on your car goes all the way up to 150 MPH, and the traffic on most major highways zips along above the posted speed limit, but neither is an excuse for not slowing things down a bit if you want to save money on fuel. Stay out of the way of all those filthy rich people who have money to burn, move over to the slow lane, and enjoy the warm feeling of giving “big oil” the bird as you continue to drive to your destination – on your terms.
  5. No Excessive Idling – This one is a little different, and not my favorite. I don’t recommend turning your vehicle off at stop lights or when you are engaged in stop and go traffic, unless it’s clear that you are in a backup that isn’t going to be moving for many minutes on end. Even then, re-starting a car with a hot battery and hot starter can sometimes be iffy (especially in older cars). The last place you want to be stranded is in the middle of a backup. But there are times when idling is done excessively, more often out of laziness or poor planning. Idling gets exactly zero miles per gallon. Idling in a drive-thru lane is costing you money. You might want to park and walk inside instead. Idling while you eat lunch and listen to the radio is another way to waste gas. Idling to “warm up” your car is a waste, unless it’s winter, and you want the heat to work.

There you have it – five top ways to improve your fuel economy. Most drivers can easily improve 10%, some may get up to 25% or more, depending on how terrible their driving habits were to start with. You can track your progress for free on http://www.fuelclinic.com and see for yourself.

There are 15 more eco-driving tips online at: http://www.fuelclinic.com/eco-driving-tips/

And don’t let the “eco” turn you off, manly-men can eco-drive too!



POLL: What will $5 per gallon gasoline mean to you?

All signs are pointing to a continued run on fuel costs here in the US, with many experts predicting $5.00+ per gallon prices common by mid-summer. This is despite a continuing slump in crude oil demand here in the US – now at a 12-year low. This paradox between low demand and high prices has many wondering what’s really happening in the market, and where will it go from here.

Some industry advisors blame commodity speculators for the gouging at the pump, while others say a booming Chinese market and weakening dollar are to blame for near-record pump prices. Still others claim it’s the work of the Obama Administration to raise energy costs in order to make alternative sources of energy competitive in price. (After all he did promise to do just that during his campaign.)

Regardless of the cause, the reality to commuters and business owners is a painful reminder of the summer of 2008 when rocketing energy prices caused a wide ripple effect on prices in nearly every sector of the economy. Many businesses were in a panic about paying surging fuel costs while keeping prices low and people employed. Consumers felt it everywhere, but especially at the pump with painful total sale costs per tank of gas.

So what will $5 per gallon gasoline mean to you?

Will you choose to car-pool, buy a more efficient car, walk or bike to work (where possible), take fewer trips, buy gasoline on discount-days, adopt eco-driving habits, or cut-back in other areas of spending to afford your normal driving habits?



Gas Prices Approaching $5 at the same time Demand for Crude Oil at 12-Year Low

April 12, 2011 · · Filed Under Eco-Driving, FuelClinic, LinkedIn, Saving Money, Twitter · 1 Comment 

Can anyone explain to me how this system works. We are seeing near-record costs for gasoline at the same time demand for crude oil is at an all-time low.

…”Imports fell 1.7 percent to $210.9 billion. A big reason for the decline was that demand for crude oil fell to a 12-year low, which offset higher prices.”… (Source: Forbes)

The EIA indicates that higher crude oil prices are the cause of the higher gasoline prices, not additional taxes or increases in refining.

Graphic Source: EIA

UPDATED – POLL: What will $5 per gallon gasoline mean to you?



Examining the effects of an eco-driving system on driver distraction

April 11, 2011 · · Filed Under Distracted Driving, Eco-Driving, Science, Technology · 1 Comment 

Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane Australia is seeking participants for a study on potential effects of an eco-driving system on driver dsitraction.

One of the possible causes of driver distraction is in-vehicle driver assistant systems such as eco-driving systems. Eco-driving systems send messages to drivers so that driving performance can be improved in terms of fuel efficiency.

The purpose of this research is to better understand driver distraction caused by in-vehicle systems, in particular, eco-driving systems. This project may ultimately assist in decreasing the number of road fatalities.

The driving component of the study will be conducted in the CARRS-Q Advanced Driving Simulator.

One of the key aspects of the FuelClinic Methodology for eco-driving (using CarChip) is that a simple audible feedback tone is used to remind the driver of previously trained behavior without requiring them to look at a display. There are many gadgets with visual feedback that one can assume might prove to be a distraction for drivers, and this study may help establish if this is in fact true or not.



A Recent Study from IIHS Reveals Underride Crash Guards Installed on Most Trucks are Not Strong Enough

April 11, 2011 · · Filed Under Uncategorized · Comment 
An “underride crash” is one where a passenger car crashes into the back of a heavy duty truck or trailer, often resulting in fatal injuries to occupants of the passenger car.

“Underride Crashes can be catastrophic for people in passenger vehicles that run into the backs of heavy trucks. The steel guards on thebacks of big rigs are supposed to stop smaller vehiclesfrom sliding underneath trailers, but a new Institute analysis of real-world crashes indicates that too often rearguards intended to prevent underride  buckle or breakaway from their trailers — with deadly consequences” starts the March 1 2011 Status Report from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

The Institute has studied the underride crash problem for more than 30 years, including mid-1970s crash tests demonstrating how then-current guards were ineffective in preventing underride (see Status Report, March 29, 1977; on the web at iihs.org). Federal rules put in place in 1953 required interstate carriers to have rear underride guards meeting speci? cations for ground clearance, setback, and width, but not strength, energy absorption, or attachment methods.

The National Highway Safety Bureau, predecessor to the National Highway Traf? c Safety Administration (NHTSA), indicated in 1967 that it would develop a new standard, but the agency abandoned the effort in 1971 even though the National Transportation Safety Board recommended that energy-absorbing underride and override barriers on trucks, trailers, and buses be required. In 1977 the Institute demonstrated that a 30 mph crash of a Chevrolet Chevette into a tractor-trailer with a rear guard meeting the US rule resulted in severe damage to the car’s occupant compartment.

The Institute petitioned NHTSA for a new standard. It took the agency nearly 20 years to publish new rules. The upgrade took effect in 1998 and resulted in lower and wider underride guards under Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 224. Another standard, Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 223, introduced quasi-static test requirements specifying minimum levels of strength and energy absorption (see Status Report, March 2, 1996). The standards cover new trailers but exempt many types of heavy trucks used in everyday commerce including straight trucks, wheels-back trucks, and special purpose trucks. The result is that the majority of trucks on the road aren’t subject to underride rules.

Meanwhile, the passenger vehicle ?eet has changed dramatically since NHTSA wrote the standards. Regulators then were concerned that “overly rigid guards could result in passenger compartment forces that would increase the risk of occupant injuries even in the absence of underride.” The agency also recognized the need for balancing energy absorption with guard strength because “the more the guard yields, the farther the colliding vehicle travels and the greater likelihood of passenger compartment intrusion.”

The Institute’s latest analysis indicates that guards too weak to adequately mitigate underride are a bigger problem than overly stiff guards.



Understanding Negligent Entrustment Issues and Your Company-Owned Fleet

Orlando, FL – BrightFleet.com, the premiere hazard perception evaluation and risk mitigation website, has published a white paper “Understanding Negligent Entrustment Issues and Your Company-Owned Fleet,” describing the liability that lies in entrusting employees to drive company vehicles and ways in which fleet managers can work to mitigate the threat of exposure to their company’s financial health and reputation.

The average fleet driver will travel our nations highways at eight to twelve thousand miles more a year than the rest of us, making them more likely to cause, or be involved in, a motor vehicle accident. Companies and their owners who think they’re hiring a well trained, top quality driver, simply by looking at his or her resume, may be held accountable in the event their driver causes an accident that could have been prevented.

“Understanding Negligent Entrustment Issues and Your Company-Owned Fleet” is intended to assist fleet and risk managers and CFOs in understanding the relationship between company and driver and ways in which they can protect their assets – both financial and human.

Read “Understanding Negligent Entrustment Issues and Your Company-Owned Fleet” by clicking here: http://www.brightfleet.com/whitepapers/understanding-negligent-entrustment-issues

Interview requests and live product demonstrations of the BrightFleet.com Hazard Prevention and Evaluation software can be requested by contacting Kathy Kniss, kathy@k2prgroup.com, (626) 429-2723.



Changing Your Driving Style Can Save You $400 per year – or more

March 13, 2011 · · Filed Under Eco-Driving, FuelClinic, LinkedIn, Technology, Twitter · Comment 

Source: Discovery News

“When people get instantaneous feedback, they can say: ‘Oh, look how bad my mileage was,” said Matthew Barth of the University of California, Riverside. They can also see the driving changes that bring improvements in their mileage.

The continuous feedback is important. When people just get advice on driving in ways that save fuel — like avoiding quick starts or slowing down on the highway — they tend to fall back into less efficient driving habits. “The problem with the static advice is it doesn’t really stick,” Barth said.

The mileage feedback encourages more gradual starts and stops and slower highway speeds.

With eco-driving, “you become a less aggressive driver,” said Jack Barkenbus of Vanderbilt University. “It encourages you to get your foot off the pedal a little bit more. You’ll find that on the interstates, going slower really makes a difference.”

Barkenbus said that a 10 percent decrease in fuel usage — and therefore in driving-related CO2 emissions — is a realistic possibility. If one-third of Americans did this, he estimated in a paper published last year, it would save the equivalent of taking almost 6 million cars of the road, or eliminating seven large coal-fired power plants. Those who dropped their usage by 10 percent would save around $200 to $400 per year.

Read the rest



As Gas Prices Spike, More See Economic News as Bad

March 13, 2011 · · Filed Under Eco-Driving, Fuels, News & Reports · Comment 

Source: Pew Research Center

Concern about prices –especially gas prices – appears to be a key factor in the more negative perceptions. Nine-in-ten (90%) say they are hearing mostly bad news about gas prices, up from an already high 77% in February. About six-in-ten (62%) say they are hearing mostly bad news about food and consumer prices in general. That’s up from 49% one month ago.

Read the report



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

February 13, 2011 · · Filed Under BrightFleet, CarChip Pro, Commercial Fleets, Eco-Driving, FuelClinic, LinkedIn, Oil & Politics, Twitter · Comment 

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.”
    .
  • 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.
    .
  • 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.
    .
  • 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]



Maryland Dimming Street Lights in Effort to Save Money

January 26, 2011 · · Filed Under Governments, Intelligent Transportation Systems, United States · Comment 

Baltimore Sun:

In an effort to save energy and money, the State Highway Administration has cut back its overhead lighting on a six-mile stretch of the highway. If results from the year-long test are favorable, officials say, the state could reduce lighting on other highways…

…The experiment has raised concerns about safety in some quarters. For many motorists, a well-lit roadway is comforting, and many studies over the decades have shown that bright lights — in the right places — can save lives.

Highway officials said that even with fewer lights, the illumination of Route 100 will remain well within federal standards. But AAA Mid-Atlantic still has concerns about the test.

“With the nation’s motorists aging rapidly, we need to keep in mind they tend to have more difficulty seeing to drive safely at night. We worry that deactivating highway lighting could curtail motorists’ safety,” said AAA spokeswoman Christine Delise.



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

December 28, 2010 · · Filed Under Diesel, Eco-Driving, FuelClinic, FuelClinic.com, Fuels, Gasoline, LinkedIn, Oil & Politics, Oil Industry, Oil Refining, Twitter · 5 Comments 

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.



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