Techniques for Drivers to Conserve Fuel
Fleet drivers can conserve fuel by learning how driving behaviors affect fuel economy and by adopting techniques to save fuel and money. The amount of fuel your vehicle consumes depends heavily on how you drive. See the information below and FuelEconomy.gov for information about driving efficiently.
Speeding increases fuel consumption and decreases fuel economy. Fuel is required to provide the energy necessary to overcome resistance from air and tire rolling. While vehicles reach optimal fuel economy at different speeds, gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 50 miles per hour (mph). For example, every 5 mph you drive over 50 mph is like paying $0.15 more per gallon of gas (based on the price of gas at $2.32 per gallon). Reducing your speed by 5 mph to 10 mph can improve fuel economy by 7%–14%.
Driving conservatively can help your fleet save fuel and money. Vehicles use the most energy when accelerating. Using cruise control on the highway can help drivers maintain a constant speed. Obeying the speed limit, gentle and well-timed acceleration and braking, and reading the road ahead can improve the fuel economy of your vehicle by 33% on the highway and 5% in the city. Driving more sensibly is also safer for you and others.
Combining trips can save you time and money by avoiding unnecessary stopping and starting of your vehicle, which can be an issue in colder climates where it takes longer for your engine to reach its most fuel-efficient temperature. Shorter trips can use twice as much fuel as one long, multi-purpose trip covering the same distance when the engine is warm. For information on how cold weather affects fuel economy, see FuelEconomy.gov’s Fuel Economy in Cold Weather page.
Reduce Vehicle Load
The additional weight of items left in a vehicle requires more fuel to propel your vehicle. Hauling rooftop cargo also increases drag. This can reduce fuel economy from 2%–8% in city driving, 6%–17% on the highway, and 10%–25% at 65–75 mph. Offload any unnecessary items to reduce the fuel consumption of your vehicle.
Maintain Your Vehicle
Maintaining vehicles properly can improve fuel economy up to 40%. Devices and additives claiming to improve fuel economy and reduce pollution should be carefully evaluated for legitimacy.
Drivers may find it difficult to recognize opportunities to conserve fuel while driving. A 2015 study by the National Center for Sustainable Transportation found that instantaneous or in-vehicle feedback affects driver behavior and improves fuel economy on average of 5.6% and can result in even greater driving improvements when added to driver training.
Vehicle manufacturers are increasingly providing instant driver feedback through in-vehicle displays. For example, Honda's Eco Assist feature involves a sophisticated feedback system that teaches drivers how to drive more efficiency and what behaviors affect their fuel economy. The Toyota Prius also provides a multi-information display, including driving behavior feedback on driver actions that affect gas mileage and eco savings records that show how much the driver is saving on gas each month from eco-driving behaviors. Aftermarket feedback devices are also available and can be added to existing vehicles.
- FuelEconomy.gov Gas Mileage Tips
- University of California Riverside's ECO-ITS Research Program
- FuelEconomy.gov: Keeping Your Vehicle In Shape
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency SmartWay Program
- University of California at Davis’ Improved Energy Feedback to Drivers can Dramatically Reduce On-road Fuel Consumption