Unlicensed drivers learning to drive are often taught the benefits of defensive driving. Safety is often the focus of such lessons, but the benefits of driving safely and efficiently extend far beyond safety.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, aggressive driving can lower gas mileage by roughly 15 to 30 percent at highway speeds. In addition, a 2017 study from researchers at the DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory found that aggressive driving can contribute to reduced fuel efficiency by as much as 40 percent in stop-and-go traffic.
Speeding as well as rapid acceleration and braking are hallmarks of aggressive driving, and each of these habits puts drivers, their passengers and other motorists at risk of accident and injury. By taking these steps to drive more efficiently, drivers can save money and potentially even lives.
1. Avoid rooftop cargo.
Rooftop cargo units can be beneficial for family vacations or other extended getaways. But using rooftop cargo boxes as traveling storage units for items you don’t need on a daily basis or simply keeping empty units attached to vehicle roofs compromises fuel efficiency. Rooftop cargo bins increase the aerodynamic drag on vehicles, forcing them to burn more fuel than they would need to burn while moving without anything attached to the roof. DOE estimates suggest that large, blunt rooftop cargo boxes can reduce fuel efficiency by as much as 25 percent when a vehicle is moving at speeds between 65 and 75 miles per hour.
2. Don’t treat your trunk like a closet.
Trunks are not closets, so resist the temptation to use them to store golf clubs and other items that are better stored in a house or garage. Research has indicated that an extra 100 pounds in a vehicle can reduce gas mileage by about one percent. Because that figure is based on the percentage of extra weight relative to the vehicle’s weight, drivers of small vehicles may find using their trunks as closets to be especially costly and inefficient.
3. Use cruise control when possible.
Cruise control makes it possible for vehicles to maintain constant speeds. That helps drivers ensure they are always obeying the speed limit, and it keeps cars from the constant acceleration and deceleration that wastes fuel. Efficient driving is safe, cost-effective and eco-friendly.