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Aggressive Driving Wastes Money and Energy

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For some drivers, a posted speed limit is more of a suggestion than a hard and fast rule, and their disregard not only puts other drivers at risk; it’s also a reckless way to burn through gas and money.

The study, “Fuel Consumption Sensitivity of Conventional and Hybrid Electric Light-Duty Gasoline Vehicles to Driving Style,” by John Thomas, Shean Huff, Brian West, and Paul Chambon, researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, revealed that aggressive driving—“speeding and slamming on the brakes”—requires more energy and depletes fuel quicker than non-aggressive driving habits.


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According to the study, “Aggressive behavior behind the wheel can lower gas mileage in light-duty vehicles by about 10 to 40 percent in stop-and-go traffic and roughly 15 to 30 percent at highway speeds. This can equate to losing about $0.25 to $1 per gallon.”

To uncover the correlation between aggressive driving and fuel consumption, the researchers evaluated “previous studies and developed a new vehicle energy model and applied it to two similar mid-sized sedans: a hybrid electric vehicle and a conventional gasoline vehicle.”

The vehicles were put through several tests in which the researchers noted the effects of hard-braking on battery recovery and fuel consumption.

“The new vehicle energy model we created focused on the limitations of regenerative braking along with varying levels of driving-style aggressiveness to show that this could account for greater fuel economy variation in an HEV compared to a similar conventional vehicle,” Thomas said in a statement. “Our findings added credence to the idea that an aggressive driving style does affect fuel economy probably more than people think.”


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In addition to obeying the speed limit, drivers can also save gas by using cruise control, not idling for extended periods of time, and by not overloading their vehicles, according to FuelEconomoy.gov.

News Source: Alternative Fuels Data Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, FuelEconomy.gov