As an ecodriving solutions instructor, I get asked by clients that we work with, if I practice what I preach in terms of driving behavior. And I have to admit, that even though it can take some serious emotional discipline when I’m out on the street with people zipping around and I have a full tank of fuel, I still do practice Ecodriving techniques on a regular basis.
Do I ever give in to the impulse to just get going down the road?
Sure. On occasion I do. Especially when I feel that I need to get someplace quickly.
But, I always see evidence that I’m just wasting energy and money when I try to rush through traffic. It simply doesn’t work. That dude, who stays in his lane and just maintains a steady speed always seems to catch up to me at the next light, or in the next slow down in traffic. And as catches back up to me, after I fly by just a couple seconds earlier in my emotional haste, he’ll give me the look that I give everyone else when I’m trying to do the right thing behind the wheel. And that always brings me back to the realization, that the emotional part of driving is probably the biggest detriment or the greatest aid in achieving ecodriving efficiency.
I have found that the principal stimulus for me to ecodrive, is when I know that not doing it properly is really going to impact my wallet.
Let me give you an example.
I just moved my family from Arizona to California, and we did it with minimal planning for some good reasons. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself.
I ended up doing the move in three trips, renting a 16 foot box truck each time.
Now if you’ve ever rented a box truck, you know that it is usually an adventure that must be endured. You also know that the cost of fuel is often more than the rental cost itself.
I was determined to make sure that I could make the 400 mile trip with a minimal of fuel cost while still getting there in a reasonable time. To do that, I used all the ecodriving techniques that I knew of.
I planned the route in terms of time of day of travel, and looked at when traffic was heaviest and lightest on the routes that I wanted to take.
I looked at weather. Since the move was in July, and July is the hottest time of year in Arizona; the sun turns the southwest desert into one of the hottest places on the planet, I knew night travel was probably the best way to go.
And of course I planned on keeping at or slightly below the speed limit. My wife made the trips as well in our SUV, and I planned on using her as a gauge of reasonable time.
I meticulously watched the fuel economy meter on the truck that gave me miles left to empty, but no actual fuel economy meter.
And finally, I drove each of the three trips slightly differently and in different conditions to see if my ecodriving attempts made a difference.
In a big way.
My time to distance for each trip varied by about an hour. The shortest trip was the one done at night throughout. The longest trip was done with me arriving in L.A. near rush hour.
There is nothing like driving in L.A. traffic in a poorly maintained moving truck that is loaded to the hilt with your life’s belongings. Joy and serenity do not come to mind, even when you are trying to ecodrive!
The shortest trip also resulted in the best fuel milage, and the longest trip resulted in the worst of the three trips in mileage.
Also, in the traffic-filled trip I ended up only 10 minutes behind my wife, while the open and flowing run made at night saw me arrive 20 minutes behind my wife.
The one constant in all three trips, is that I was able to increase the miles-to-empty capacity reading in each of the trucks that I drove at each fill up. I was also able to keep my fuel cost below that of the cost of the rental itself.
So, what does all this tell us?
A few things -
1- Traffic in L.A. at rush hour is brutal. Seriously brutal.
2 – Time to distance is based on environmental effects more than anything else. Traffic flow, determines how much time it takes to go from point A to point B. Not your driving ability, not the type of car you have, and certainly not your emotional state.
3 – You are going to get worse fuel mileage in a non hybrid vehicle in heavy traffic versus light traffic – but you have greater opportunity to try and save fuel where you can. Every time you have to stop and go represents an opportunity; a chance to be easy with the throttle and try and get the best fuel economy possible. You certainly aren’t going to save time in traffic, so you might as well try and save fuel.
4 – Moving yourself, your spouse, your two boys, your two dogs and all your stuff is a recipe for emotional challenge in terms of ecodriving. Conquer it!
Final thought on this. As I was driving along the 10 freeway, I saw a huge number of rental moving trucks just like mine. We all gave each other the same look of self pity as we passed by one another on the seemingly endless trip. We were a community of do-it-yourselfers, all possibly regretting our pre-trip gumption. But we were also a fleet. And the thought occurred to me more than once just how much fuel could be saved if everyone that drove trucks like these actually practiced ecodriving techniques. They would if they had the emotional attachment to the financial cost that they were responsible for. I know I was!
Engage your employees and show them what a benefit ecodriving can be; for themselves, for their company and even their community.
Ecodriving – it works.