The Perceptions of Driving

Perceptions.

Who’s to say whose perceptions are right and whose are wrong?

Maybe it has more to do with point of view than anything else.  And maybe that point of view has to do with how we’re taught, or what we believe to be common knowledge.

Take the act of driving for example.  Common knowledge would suggest that the faster you try to go, the quicker you will get where you want to go.  Common knowledge would also suggest that how we choose to drive is the number one factor in how quickly we can get from point A to point B.

Certainly, that is the perception of  most people.  And who in the world would argue that?

Actually, we would.  And we would argue that claim based on the concepts of ecodriving.

Concepts that include our basic premise that the number one factor that determines time to distance is what we call environmental effect.  No matter how “fast” a driver you are, being at a stop light or a stop sign or stuck in heavy traffic traffic, puts everyone on equal footing in terms of how long it will take to get somehwere.

That’s not the perception of many people though.  The ones that change lanes constantly, follow too closely, accelerate aggressively and ultimately end up in the same place as everyone else at the same time, have a perception that suggests that their “faster” driving will be the the thing that get them there quicker.  

We know that simply is the wrong perception. 

We’re not the only one’s that see that though.  You might be surprised to know that even blockbuster Hollywood hits have shown how environmental effect is what really makes the difference.

Check out the 2003 version of The Italian Job sometime to see what we’re talking about. Yeah, the movie about a huge theft that includes a bunch of hopped up Mini Coopers flying through the streets of L.A.  At first glance, your perception might be that this is the last movie in the world that would prove our time to distance and environmental effect point.

Ah, but you would be mistaken.

Watch the film.  One of the main elements of their success in a dazzling Mini Cooper laden getaway isn’t their actual driving, but rather the fact that they were able to control the flow of traffic by having hacked into the traffic light system!

So, when it was time for the heroes and heroine to make their escape, they had nothing but green in front of them (and gold beside them!).

Now, lets face it, the everyday drive of the average person doesn’t quite come with the same stakes as trying to flee the police with enough stolen gold bullion in your car to buy out Ft.Knox 50 times over, but people sure seem to drive that way at times.

Why?

Perception.  The wrong perception. And ultimately, that wrong perception is going to cost those drivers more than their share of gold to pay for all the fuel they waste getting to the same place you do at the same time.

Ecodriving – it works.

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FedEx Changes Driver Behavior and Saves Fuel and Money

Worldwide freight carrier FedEx is a household name and runs one of the largest vehicle fleets on the planet.  The Memphis, Tennessee based company has also long been an expert in the process of maximizing efficiency in their entire shipping process.

Fuel savings have been a part of their search for efficiency.

In fact, FedEx has long been at the forefront, among shipping fleets, in purchasing the most fuel efficient vehicles for the task at hand and at developing further fuel efficient systems.

Now they are tackling one of the most potentially rewarding means of achieving  a more fuel efficient fleet.

Driver behavior.

We call it Ecodriving.

Getting where you want to go, in the time you need to get there, while using less fuel, producing less pollution and being safer.

All at the same time.

It is one of those rare win, win, win scenarios.

FedEx knows it.

And at Ecodriving Solutions, so do we. 

FedEx has a basic but effective approach – accelerate with moderation, brake with moderation, avoid idling, keep an even velocity, and use air conditioning judiciously.

Sounds easy.  It is.  If you know the best time to put these elements into action.

At Ecodriving Solutions we know exactly when to put those elements into action, and which environmental affects give us the opportunity to capitalize on these techniques to the fullest.

Because specializing in Ecodriving programs for large fleets is what we do.

Want to learn more? Browse the site, or give us call.

Ecodriving – it works.

 

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Controlling emotions to get better fuel savings

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.

They did.

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.

 

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Corporate responsibility and doing the right thing – Ecodriving style!

So, we all know that Ecodriving can provide dedicated practitioners of the methodolgy the benefit of some pretty impressive fuel and money savings.  And when you get a bunch of dedicated practitioners together, in say the form of a fleet of drivers,those fuel savings can literally change the fortunes of a company. And lets face it, that’s a good thing.

But, the current business landscape is flush with companies that are doing a good thing simply for the sake of doing a good thing.  Lots of companies call it corporate responsibility.

Its about reducing fuel use, so that there is the benefit of reduced carbon emissions, and learning to become safer drivers so that the community is safer.

Don’t take my word for it though, you can see evidence of it all over the place.  And its not limited to auto and truck fleets –  you can see airlines, arguably one of the largest corporate users of fuel of any business, trumpeting their mindset of corporate responsibility.

Well, they are achieving their goals through various techniques that are found in Ecodriving.  And with the idea of corporate responsibility attached to Ecodriving, we find quickly that the process becomes more efficient because it gets to the root of what Ecodriving is all about.

A mindset.

A mindset to simply do the right thing. To do what it good.

Will everyone jump on board with that?

Of course not.

But many will.  They will because deep down, they know that not only is it the responsible thing to do, its really just plain old and simply the right and good thing to do. And when people do their part, together, the benefits are as wide spanning as they are good to feel.

 

Ecodriving – it works.

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U.S. EPA says driver training can help save fuel

Sure, its hardly ground breaking news, and it is something that fleet mangers across the country know, but still, it is certainly good to see it in official print.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, properly trained fleet truck drivers can save 5% or more in fuel costs.  Just by driving in a fuel conscious fashion.

The EPA also suggests that even seasoned drivers can benefit from such driver training.

At Ecodriving Solutions we’ve known, just like you know, that driver training helps.  But, we also know a bit about actually doing the driving training. It’s what we specialize in. Convincing drivers that are set in their ways that saving fuel is a part of being a professional driver is what we do.

We can show that while moderate acceleration, proper use of the gearbox and maintaining momentum are some of the many technical keys to saving fuel, the real process of ecodriving is about a mindset.  It is a willingness to be a better, safer, more responsible driver. It is also a realization that the benefits gleaned from ecodriving help the company, the environment and the driver themselves.

Every fleet driver out there has something to gain from ecodriving training, and so does just about every fleet.

Check out our website for more information.

Ecodriving – it works.

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The Emotional Side of Driving – Common Sense Saves Fuel

The idea that driving at a reasonable speed will help you save fuel is hardly rocket science.  While drivers the world over might not know exactly how much fuel they can save, they do know, through common sense, that being easy on the throttle pedal can result in fewer trips to the fuel pump and more money in the pocket.

So, why don’t people practice what they know to to be true, especially when fuel costs as much as it does these days?

There are actually many reasons why people insist on burning more fuel and money than they need to. But one of the most prominent reasons is that driving is an emotional endeavor.

Don’t believe me?

Take a look around at drivers the next time you are in heavy traffic.  Nobody wants to be there. They want to be at their destination, and they view everyone else on the road as an impediment to them getting to their destination.

Drivers get filled with angst.  And so they do whatever they can to quell that feeling. The easiest way for many people to feel better in that emotional state is to start driving more aggressively, because they feel they will get to their destination quicker.

Its emotion – the problem is, that action is inefficient, it wastes fuel, it pollutes, and it doesn’t get you where you want to go any quicker.

At Ecodriving Solutions, we specialize in showing drivers of all types  - from street drivers to fleet drivers, exactly what efficient, smart driving can do for them personally and professionally.

We show them how environmental conditions such as traffic load and traffic signals play a far greater role in time to distance than how hard they hit the throttle before they have to stop again.

We show them how to try and take a little of the emotion of trying to meet a deadline on the road, and to channel it into smarter driving.  We even have the proof to show it works!

 

Sure, the act of driving with common sense to save fuel is easy when you’ve got all the time in the world, but at Ecodriving Solutions we can show you how to still keep an eye on your fuel budget even when you’re on a time budget.

 

Ecodriving  - it works

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L.A. – The City of Angels where Cars are King

Ahhhh, L.A. traffic.  All that constant stop and go on the 405, the 110, the 5 – just about any freeway at any time of day has the potential to be jammed with people trying to get where they want to go in the least amount of time.  And really, it should be expected.  Southern California in general and L.A. in particular represent the car culture capital of the world.  Not only does everyone drive in L.A., but so many people drive some of the coolest hot rods, and they all want to get going down the road… NOW!

The irony is there for all to see.  Everyone wants to get where they want to go quickly, and they can’t because there is so much traffic.  And there is so much traffic because in their haste to get where they want to go quickly everyone is cutting everyone else off or getting involved in fender benders or even the occasional spark of road rage.

As it turns out, if everyone slowed down just a little bit, there would be less stop and go, fewer accidents, and everyone would get to their destinations a little sooner.

Go slower to get there faster?

Yup.  It works.  But everyone has to be on board.

Its an idea called Ecodriving.  It helps save fuel, reduce carbon emissions and makes roadways safer and more efficient.

End result?

Traffic flows freely in L.A. – we all breathe easier because the air is cleaner, we spend less money, and we don’t have to keep exchanging insurance cards.  Plus, we get where we want to go, in less time than we ever thought possible in a city where cars are king!

Want to learn more?  www.ecodrivingsolutions.com

Ecodriving – it works.

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The Ecodriving / Diet Connection – Part II

In my last post I talked about the fact that Ecodriving and dieting have some things in common.

1 – Every little bit counts.

2 – Changing your behavior can be the most critical component to success.

As it turns out, there is yet another connection between the two ideas which touches on why we are in business in the first place.

It is about teaching or learning, depending of course on which side of the equations you are.  Are Ecodriving or dieting terribly complicated ideas?  No.

Then why the need for a teaching process?

Because many times it helps to have all the concepts, all the ideas, and all the “tricks of the trade” as it were, packaged together to help the dieter or the aspiring fuel saver, and carbon footprint shrinker stay on track.

Is there really a niche for such a process?

Of course – look at how many successful companies have built themselves on offering, in addition to low cal foods, a way for each person to learn about the tricks of dieting and even diet plans that work for their particular body.

Ecodriving Solutions is the same type of company.  We teach you all the things that go in to Ecodriving. Things that you might already know, but that you don’t necessarily think about. And just like a good dieting program that looks at your personal nutritional needs, at Ecodriving Solutions, we take the time and the effort to look at what elements of Ecodriving your company or fleet can use to the greatest advantage. We can and do customize our programs to fit the physique of your fleet!

Plus, like dieting, Ecordriving training is sustainable. Once you learn about and are on the path it starts paying for itself.  With dieting you go the doctor less and with Ecodriving you spend less money.  We even offer what are called Ecodriving Snacks. Little post-training reminders that help you stay on the track of losing – losing things like frequent fuel stops, big carbon footprints and accident paperwork! Those are good things to lose, don’t you think?

Ecodriving – it works.

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Dieting and Ecodriving -Every Little Bit Counts

I’ve always been a pretty thin person, but my post-racing-driving-sitting-behind-a-desk career has brought to me a harsh reality  -  I need to lose some weight.

So, as I stood on scale the other day and looked down at the needle as the numbers behind it grew inexorably higher, it suddenly dawned on me that I was looking at a gauge indicating the health of my body, like a fuel gauge in a car showing how much is left in the tank.

I also realized that to get the needle to do what I want it do, like go down on the scale and move slower on the fuel gauge, requires me to do one main thing. Change my behavior.

Gosh, when you put it that way, it sounds daunting. But, really its not.  After all, I’ve been doing it for several years now in the process of Ecodriving.

It is just the realization that every little bit counts.  In Ecodriving we refer to the concept as cumulative effect.  Doing all the little things you can and seeing how they add up to fuel savings. Watching how hard you accelerate, monitoring your throttle inputs, reading intersections, carefully maintaining momentum, coasting and so on and so forth.

As I sit here and eat my 2nd Fuji apple of the morning I know that I am doing the same thing with my eating behavior. Choosing fruit instead of fruit filled danish, reducing my snacking (I have an intense weakness for Ding Dongs), drinking 2% instead of whole milk and so on and so forth.

Neither process has forced me to completely change who I am (although I’m hoping that the dieting will change how much of me there is). Ecodriving and dieting are just balanced, common sense approaches to meeting goals that are important to me. And to top it off, (with cottage cheese instead of whipped cream of course) both Ecodriving and dieting have multiple benefits.

Benefits like, increased fuel economy, more energy, reduced carbon footprint, fitter looking body, fewer accidents, better mental  stamina, so on and so forth.

But again, the main driving process here is this: I have to subtly change my behavior, it is my responsibility and no one elses’.

So, look. If you already know what it takes to make a healthy person and you do those things in a common sense balanced fashion, then Ecodriving will be an easy jump for you.

Just remember that every little bit counts. Now, where did I put that orange?

Ecodriving – it works.

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The Ford C-Max – Proof That Driver Behavior Influences Fleet Fuel Savings

Thinking of replacing your fleet of gasoline only powered cars with some hybrids, or do you think that hybrid technology is just a hype?

 

No matter what you think, it is hard to argue with the fact that almost every major auto manufacturer is building some type of hybrid and there is a “mileage war” or sorts, to see which car builder can one-up the competition with the best EPA rating.  The latest foray from Ford, the C-Max appears to be at the top of the heap right now with an EPA rating of 47 mpg.

Plus, Ford is working hard to promote just what their Focus sized C-Max hybrid can do.

They even had a recent contest to see who could get the best mileage out of the car, and posted the results on Facebook.

You can see from the post that the winning driver got an astounding 61.7 mpg.  An remember, that hybrids generally get the best mileage in stop and go traffic.  That means that this driver was probably using many of the techniques involved in Ecodriving.

Things like being easy when adding throttle to help the electric motor to stay on longer.  Reading intersections in order to brake earlier, lighter and longer to help regenerate electric power.  And all the while, probably getting their destinations at the same time as other drivers.

It is proof that what a driver does behind wheel can sometimes matter as much or even more than what is under the hood.  And, combining the two elements – driver behavior and vehicle potential – like an Ecodriver in a C-Max – is unbeatable.

Think about that the next time the thought occurs to you to replace that fleet of yours.

Ecodriving – it works.

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