Being tailgated can be an intimidating experience and at worst, a dangerous driving habit.
But a number of motorists are regularly risking safety (and a fine) insisting on keeping a close distance behind the vehicle in front.
A group of people known as hypermilers are dedicated advocates of energy efficient driving, aiming to beat their car’s typical fuel consumption level (miles per gallon – MPG) as much as possible.
With spending forever being squeezed, it’s no wonder that people are going to great lengths to reduce usage.
By following a range of techniques, hypermilers claim to have increased fuel efficiency by as much 60 per cent, but some of the suggested driving methods have caused controversy – most notably the practice of drafting.
Drafting is commonly used in bicycle racing, speed skating and motor sport to reduced wind resistance caused by the vehicle in front. The drafting driver travels closely behind the vehicle in front, taking advantage of the motor ahead pushing a path of air out of the way.
This effectively reduces the air resistance and instantly increases the MPG of the motor travelling behind. The larger the vehicle in front, the greater the reduction in aerodynamic drag.
By drafting, tests have confirmed that drivers can see an increase of around 40 per cent on their MPG – which could explain why that driver behind you is travelling a bit too close for comfort.
But while the technique is confirmed to save fuel, the act of drafting has been slammed as dangerous as some hypermilers have been known to take the practice to extreme.
Tailgating can be incredibly stressful for the driver on the receiving end and can even land you with a £100 fine and three penalty points if you are caught in the act.
Then there is the obvious issue of flouting the recommended safe stopping distance and lack of reaction time. The advised stopping distance when travelling at 55 miles per hour is 150ft.
Any less than that and you dramatically increase your risk of a collision. And in the case of drafting behind a larger vehicle, the closer you tail, the higher the likelihood of driving in their blind spot, plus limiting your own visibility.
Rodney Kumar, spokesman for IAM RoadSmart Advanced Driving school said: “Safety should always come ahead of saving money. People should not do anything that compromise the safety of other road users.
“Drivers have to remember the things they were taught when learning to drive – importantly the two second rule. If you are driving too close and a vehicle suddenly brakes, you risk a collision.
“Forget drafting and hypermiling and go back to what you learned. Saving a few pence on a journey just not worth the risk.”
Another shocking driving method that some hypermilers have adopted is the act of coasting – but with the engine switched off.
Drivers turn the engine off while the car is in motion, in a bid to keep it rolling as long as possible using only the built up momentum. The technique uses no fuel consumption, but at the risk of losing braking and power steering performance. Plus the real danger of being unable to restart the engine.
Despite some of the questionable and risky hypermiling methods, there are some tips that can be taken from the community that are safe, and could genuinely increase fuel efficiency.
Safe hypermiling techniques
It can be tempting to skip an expensive service, but a well maintained car can be up to 10 per cent more efficient.
Take it slow:
Ever wondered why some people insist on travelling between 50 – 60mph in a 70 limit? Could be because this is the optimum speed range to get the most fuel efficiency, by saving as much as 40 per cent.
Smoothly does it:
Avoid harsh braking which will require you to have to accelerate quickly again. Smooth driving with gentle acceleration and deceleration will increase the efficiency of your vehicle.
Lighten the load:
Get rid of any unnecessary weight. Clearing the clutter out of your boot, or leaving the pushchair at home if you don’t need it can seriously increase fuel efficiency. Might be a good idea to remove the roof or bike racks too when not in use, as it will reduce drag.
Drive in the highest possible gear. Changing to a higher gear at an engine speed of 2,000 rpm in a diesel and 2,500 rpm in a petrol and you will reap the rewards.
Increase the pressure:
Make sure your tyres are at the correct pressure according to your owner’s manual. Don’t over inflate as this can cause tyre blow outs but if they are lacking the correct pressure, it causes more drag.
Switch the air con off:
Air conditioning guzzles fuel, decreasing efficiency as much as 10 per cent. So crack the window open if you are doing less than 40mph (any more than this and the drag caused by the open window writes off any energy saved by switching off the air con).
Don’t start the engine until you’re ready to go, idling wastes fuel and the engine will warm up quicker when you’re moving.
Choose the best route for your journey. This isn’t necessarily the shortest route that will get you there faster, more the journey that will avoid the most traffic. If you have to stop and start in traffic, this will dramatically decrease your MPG. Take an uninterrupted route instead.
Obvious, but correct. Driving less means less fuel consumption. It’s better for the environment, and if you’re walking or biking, it has the bonus of being great for your health too.
Source : DailyPost