Making A
Difference


Driving Tips

(Using The Switch)

  • Limit maximum freeway speed to 55-65 mph
  • Use cruise control whenever possible
  • Accelerate gradually; 0-30 in 8 seconds, 0-60 in 15 seconds
  • Avoid frequent accelerations and braking
  • Leave space, then coast downhill (avoid braking…but be safe)
  • Coast into stops rather than braking hard
  • Align wheels and maintain tire pressure at recommended psi
  • Avoid excessive idling
  • Avoid aggressive driving
  • Eliminate short trips
  • Reduce air conditioner use
  • Obtain regular service per manufacturer's recommendation
  • Avoid competitive driving
  • Carpool or use public transportation
  • Get a scooter, bike or walking shoes
  • Avoid rush hour traffic
  • Be courteous, use the slow lane (Don't be the 65 ENFORCER)

Remember, driving speeds should always be subject to road conditions
Posted speed limits serve a known purpose but congestion, weather and other conditions always dictate how individuals should drive.

Limit maximum freeway speed to 55-65 mph

We know! Limiting maximum freeway speed to 55-65 mph is difficult. All that horsepower and torque is wasted. And so many others are passing you. You just want to get to your destination ….and getting there quickly seems really important.

But, if you limit your top speed to 65 or 55, you will probably arrive only minutes later…and so what if you get passed. For every mile per hour you drive over 55, your fuel economy drops by up to 2 percent. In other words, mpg increases up to 20% when “We Drive 65” mph instead of 75mph. If we are really committed to improving fuel economy, we can increase our mpg up to 40% by limiting our top speed to 55 versus 75 mph!

For most vehicles the optimal (most efficient) highway speed is around 40-50 mph. Many factors affect the optimal value and it will be different for every vehicle. But since 40-50 mph is so far below most highway posted limits, there are plenty of reasons to think of 55 mph as the minimum (free flowing) highway speed.

Remember 55 is up to 20% more efficient than 65, 65 may be another 20% more efficient than 75, and 75 may be yet another 20% more efficient than 85. Some tests yield savings of 2 percent for every mile per hour. Other tests yield savings of only 1.3 percent. Many factors affect the results. Regardless, maintain a highway speed of 55 mph compared to the 80 mph commonly seen in the Bay Area, and elsewhere, and your mpg increase could range between 32 % and 50%.)

Use cruise control and the overdrive gear whenever possible

Initial reaction to cruise control…. I’ll never stay awake! Truth is, using cruise control will not put you to sleep; using it is challenging. Try it.

Using cruise control will actually increase your attention and it will reduce the unconscious tendency to accelerate and to brake. Repetitive acceleration and braking adversely affects mpg.

What about overdrive? Many may not even know they have it. When you use the overdrive gear (OD), your engine speed (rpm) goes down. That saves gas and reduces engine wear.

Accelerate gradually; 0-30 in 8 seconds, 0-60 in 15 seconds

This is tough but extremely important for urban and freeway driving. Today’s vehicles have so much power. (Traces of steroids and hormones have not been found)

To get the feel for a smooth acceleration, count the seconds you take to go from 0-30….and then 0-60. Once you regularly accelerate from 0-30 in 8 seconds around the city and 0-60 in 15 seconds when entering the freeway, your mpg will increase.

Avoid frequent accelerations and braking

Braking is like using an eraser. Fuel expended to achieve your cruising speed is erased as soon as you apply the brakes. Momentum is lost!

We call frequent braking and accelerating “military driving”. (left-right…left-right…you know….brake-accelerate…..brake-accelerate) As an alternative, ease up on the right pedal and you will not need to exert as much force on the left one.

Avoid frequent bursts of acceleration and braking whenever possible. Smooth acceleration, cornering, and braking all add to your mpg.

Leave space, then coast downhill (avoid braking…but be safe)

Only coast in drive or overdrive, never in neutral. Each time you take your foot off the accelerator you can be coasting at 90mpg (miles per gallon). The more you coast, the better your mpg.

Coasting is tricky. As you know, posted speed limits are the same uphill as downhill. Should they be!

Instead of maintaining your speed (and increasing your rpm to climb that summit), back off from the posted limit by 5-15 mph. Try to reach the hilltop at 5-15 mph below the posted speed (depending on the rise of the hill.) Then with a large gap between you and the traffic ahead, coast downhill (while in drive). Remember, as soon as you apply the brakes some momentum is lost and you erase some of the fuel spent climbing that summit. But be careful because the amount your vehicle accelerates while coasting downhill will surprise you. When you need to brake, do it early and gently so that you can travel as far as possible before returning to the accelerator. (Who knows, someday different speed limits may be posted uphill and down.)

Coast into stops rather than braking hard

We often stay on the accelerator too long. When exiting a freeway, get of the accelerator early and then coast. Let gravity and friction slow you down as momentum moves you forward. When traveling in a city, pay attention to the traffic lights, stop signs, traffic congestion and pedestrians in general. If you anticipate an impending stop, begin to coast and/or brake early so that you only come to a complete stop when necessary. It takes less fuel to accelerate from 10-20 mph rather than from 0-20 mph.

Align wheels and maintain tire pressure at recommended psi

Improperly aligned wheels and underinflated tires increase rolling resistance (friction). Higher resistance yeilds lower mpg. Driving with misaligned wheels &/or underinflated tires is like driving with one foot on the gas and one foot on the brake (friction).

The U.S. Department of Energy says that for every drop of 10-psi from the recommended tire pressure, you can expect your gas mileage to decrease by 4.0 percent. (Tire pressure is measured in psi or pounds per square inch.)

Even though under-inflated tires drop your fuel economy, over-inflated tires won’t give mileage a boost. The vehicle’s handling can actually be compromised when the tires are over-inflated. You can usually find the correct tire pressure for your vehicle on the glove compartment door or on the driver’s side doorjamb.

Check psi when your tires are cool. Also, regularly inspect the tire tread; for sedans, move a penny along the treads; with Lincoln’s head pointed in, if at any spot you can see all of his head, it should be time for a new tire.

Avoid excessive idling

When idling, you get zero mpg. (“0”, nada, none) Tests show, a tuned up V8 idling for 10 minutes can burn about an eighth of a gallon of gas. A smaller engine would probably burn less, but idling losses still add up over time.

If all vehicles were equipped with instantaneous mpg instrumentation, including mpg since last refueling, people would be shocked. After driving hundreds of miles in an extremely efficient manner, you can watch mpg drop while waiting your turn at the drive through fast food restaurant. Instead, park and go inside. Same problem exists when you line up and pass through a drive through car wash. Turn it off while waiting your turn and when inside the car wash. Turn it off when picking up the kids from school. Turn it off anytime idling becomes excessive.

As a rule, don’t turn off your engine at a stop light but do turn it off any other time if you expect to sit for more than 90 seconds.

Avoid aggressive driving

Aggressive drivers are everywhere. They come in all ages, sizes, and textures. They drive flashy vehicles, sporty vehicles, granny vehicles, beat up vehicles, hybrid vehicles, fleet vehicles, even government vehicles. They accelerate hard and they brake hard. They weave from lane to lane often without gaining ground.

Aggressive driving not only wastes fuel, it can add to more anxiety and injury than necessary.

Eliminate short trips

Combustion engines operate less efficiently in city traffic, those short trips. Combine and/or eliminate as many of those trips as possible. Little trips gobble big mpg.

Reduce air conditioner use

When it cools outside, use the flow-through ventilation instead of the AC. Rolling down the windows around the city is also fine but it adds resistance and aerodynamic drag on the freeway.

Obtain regular service per the manufacturer’s recommendation

With the cost of fuel so high, it makes sense to seek regular, scheduled service. Proper maintenance reduces fuel consumption and extends the vehicle’s life. A poorly maintained engine burns more fuel.

Avoid competitive driving

You hear about teenagers who lose their lives while drag racing or performing a donut maneuver. They waste so much fuel but worse yet….they endanger lives.

Carpool or use public transportation

As a nation, we don't do enough of either. Many think of carpooling for going to and from work or school, but there are many other opportunities to carpool. Just use your imagination.

Also, if you live in a town or city with public transportation try using the bus or train, even just once or twice a week. You will save gas and reduce emissions.

Get a scooter, bike or walking shoes

Not everyone can afford a new more fuel efficient vehicle. Even scooters can be expensive but they can get 100 mpg! Biking and walking use no gas and they can be a healthier alternative.

Avoid rush hour traffic

Many individuals cannot control this, but there are a couple things some can do. When available, check the traffic reports (Radio and TV) or the on-line and satellite sources that provide real-time traffic news. The information may prompt you to delay your trip or to take an alternative route.

It may be worth discussing another idea with your employer. Find out if the work hours can be changed or if 4-10 hour workdays or a 9/80 schedule would be allowed. This would reduce trips and travel in peak periods.

Be courteous, use the slow lane (Don’t be the 65 ENFORCER)

Change the world one person at a time starting with you! Get committed to WeDrive65 letting your words and actions persuade others to do the same. Use the slow lanes. Don’t be the 65 mph enforcer.