Drivers have new tools for efficiency

July 30, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Do you ever find yourself coasting down a hill to save gas? More Americans are trying to improve their driving habits to preserve every precious drop of fuel.

"I have an LED readout on my car so it tells the average miles per gallon. I look at that constantly to see how I'm doing," says Michelle Pivetti, a Danville resident.

"I just try to slow down, not just speed up to the light then hit it," says John Lutz, an Alamo resident.

There is a simple science to driving efficiently. U.C. Berkeley mechanical engineering professor, Al Pisano starts with regular maintenance.

"You can get up to three percent better gas economy just by having your tires properly inflated," says Professor Albert Pisano Ph.D., from U.C. Berkeley's Mechanical Engineering Department.

Changing the oil, dirty air filters and squeaky belts minimizes friction. He also recommends accelerating slow and steady.

"The idea is to imagine an egg in between your foot and the accelerator. So you just press as gently as you can to get what you need out of the car and don't break that egg!" says Professor Pisano.

Closing windows and putting up your convertible top reduce drag or weight on your car.

"If you still have 200 lbs of camping equipment in your car from your last trip, get it out! The care is using extra gasoline carrying that extra weight around," says Professor Pisano.

And if you really want to monitor your driving efficiency, there's a new dashboard gadget out called the Kiwi.

The Kiwi was developed by Paul Lowchareonkul,a 28-year-old U.C. Irvine graduate. It monitors your driving habits into categories such as: smoothness, drag, acceleration, and deceleration.

"We made it fun. What you try to do is obtain the highest Kiwi score," says Lowchareonkul, the Kiwi inventor.

Then it displays the amount of gas you used and your savings based on your driving efficiency. It also gives you advice.

"So there's a lot of neat tricks that people can use to optimize their driving behavior," says Lowchareonkul.

Professor Pisano has some more advice: drafting behind the car in front of you only works at very high speeds.

"You may save some gas, but you'll spend a lot of money after you hit that guy in the bumper," Prof. Albert Pisano.


Load Comments