Eco-Driving in the Real World
Eco-driving training is the new frontier in squeezing the maximum of every drop of fuel in the tank. Reports claim it can improve fuel economy by an average 24 percent.
A hot trend that started in Europe where countries are staging national campaigns to boost fuel economy, the eco-driving movement is crossing The Pond. Ford recently held an eco-driving test program in Phoenix, inviting several locally based fleet managers for a coaching session with experts from the Pro Formance Group.
Eco-driving coaching is intensive, detailed, one-on-one training in driving techniques and habits aimed at instilling fuel-conscious driver behavior.
Melissa Findley, director of purchasing for Cable One, was my test partner in a 2008 Ford F-150 HD with Todd Cook, our Pro Formance Group coach in the front passenger seat.
We each drove an initial baseline lap on a nearly 12-mile course over city streets and the highway. Then the coaching began. As we drove, Cook continually pointed out the many small, specific actions we could take that cumulatively would maximize our individual mpg scores.
Learning to Eco-Drive
Some of the coaching was common sense: slow down, lose the lead foot, anticipate red and green lights, maintain a steady speed, harness vehicle momentum while approaching red lights and in turning corners, reduce vehicle cargo weight, maintain correct tire pressure, etc.
Other techniques were more advanced: When starting off, steadily press the throttle and briefly ease off while tracking rpms as the gears shift efficiently through to cruising level.