Most of this should go without saying, but you have to keep eco driving in perspective and balance.
Don’t risk big costs for small benefits!
Your life and the lives of your loved ones are worth far more than some saved gas. Don’t do anything that elevates the risk to you, your passengers, or anybody on the road. There’s no way to put a price on lives.
Even if you don’t think an accident would kill you, a minor accident costs a lot more than any gas saved. Add up the damage to your car, the cost of minor injuries and time off work, fines and legal fees, and the increased insurance rates, and it’s very difficult to justify the saved gas even with the most extreme fuel savings.
Also keep in mind that some eco driving techniques result in wearing out your car and its parts faster. Money wise, that cancels out any money that saved you. Environmentally, saving gas probably doesn’t help more than building new parts hurts.
Some Stupid Things To NOT Do
Don’t get distracted. If watching MPG readouts or doing other fuel-saving things is distracting you, be less intense.
Don’t drive too slow. More on that in the next lesson.
Don’t coast in neutral. For nearly all newer cars, it actually uses more gas to have the motor sitting there idling than coasting in gear. This is because your engine computer actually turns the fuel off during in-gear coasting, meaning you don’t use fuel at all.
Don’t coast with the engine off unless your car does that by itself (hybrids). Some cars can take this, but others will be damaged by all of the starting. You also might be in trouble if you have to make any sudden moves to avoid a wreck, because your brakes and steering could get much harder with the engine off. Just as with the last paragraph, you’d save the fuel coasting in a high gear anyway!
Don’t shut off your engine at every little stop. While hybrids and cars with factory start-stop systems are built to start up over and over, other cars can’t take it. The starters wear out way faster, and the engine bearings could even go out prematurely. All of this adds up to major expenses. Don’t stop your engine unless you’re sure you’re going to stop for at least 10 seconds.
Don’t tailgate trucks to save fuel. If you’re close enough to save fuel from “drafting” a semi-truck or RV, you’re too close to stop in time if they cram the brakes. You don’t save any fuel until you’re around 100 feet from the truck, and it’s unsafe to go closer than 150 feet. Your car can also be damaged by rocks and other debris kicked up by the truck’s tires.
Don’t break the law.
Several of the above things are not only dangerous, but they are also illegal. While I can’t cover every law one might break here, I’ll cover some laws from my home state of New Mexico that I regularly see hybrid drivers and the elderly breaking. If you don’t live in New Mexico, you most likely have similar laws in your state.
Remember that it’s YOUR responsibility to follow applicable laws when motoring, even if breaking a law could save you gas. It’s no excuse, and tickets cost more than you’d stand to gain.
“66-7-318. Following too closely. …The driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicles and the traffic upon and the condition of the highway…”
“66-7-305. Minimum speed regulation. …A person shall not drive a motor vehicle at such a slow speed as to impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic except when reduced speed is necessary for safe operation or to be in compliance with law…”
“66-7-308. Drive on right side of roadway; exceptions. …Upon all roadways any vehicle proceeding at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing shall be driven in the right-hand lane then available for traffic, or as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway, except when overtaking and passing another car proceeding in the same direction or when preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway…”
“66-7-360. Coasting prohibited. The driver of any motor vehicle when traveling upon a down grade shall not coast with the clutch disengaged.”