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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Frank Hornstein (DFL)

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EcoDriving Event Teaches Drivers to be More Fuel Efficient

Thursday, June 25, 2009
Drivers saved an average of 17.6% in fuel efficiency after receiving ecodriving training ST. PAUL - Legislators and high school driving instructors received hands-on training today at the State Capitol from professional “ecodrivers" in order to raise awareness about how simple driving techniques can help save on fuel and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The “ride and drive” event coordinated by State Representative Frank Hornstein (DFL – Minneapolis), Senator Scott Dibble (DFL – Minneapolis), Ford Motor Company and ProFormance. Hornstein and Dibble are contemplating legislation to incorporate Ecodriving practices into Minnesota's drivers' education programs. “Fuel efficiency will be a critical economic and environmental issue for generations to come as we seek solutions to our nation's dependence on foreign oil and global climate change,” said Hornstein. “As a new generation of teenagers learn how to drive, it’s important to teach driving skills they can use to drive safely, responsibly, and efficiently throughout their lives.” During the training session, each participant drove an eight mile base lap in which a professional trainer observed their driving techniques and calculated their fuel efficiency. The trainers then provided specific “ecodriving” training for a second lap. The average fuel efficiency improvement for the drivers who received training was 17.6%, with one driver improving his fuel efficiency by 46.2%. “Most of us aren’t thinking about fuel efficiency as we’re putting our foot on and off the gas pedal as we drive,” said Dibble. “If we can learn to adopt fairly basic driving techniques we can not only save money at the pump, but greatly reduce the amount of greenhouse gases we are emitting into the air.” Ecodriving refers to specific driving behaviors that can improve fuel economy, save money, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote safe driving. The U.S. Energy Administration reports that the U.S, uses close to 150 billion gallons of gasoline annually. If every American practiced Ecodriving and got the EPA – estimated 15 percent benefit in fuel economy, more than 22 billion gallons of gas would be saved each year. Ecodriving experts suggest the following practices for motorists to use to maximize their mileage: • Slow down and obey the posted speed limit. Aim for a constant speed, drive with the flow of traffic, and use cruise control on the highway. • Smooth acceleration under 2,000 RPM’s and smooth deceleration and braking by anticipating traffic flow, signal status and stop signs also saves fuel. • Avoid idling. Turn the engine off in non-traffic situations, such as at drive-up windows, when idling more than 30 seconds. • Check your tire pressure monthly to insure that it is at the recommended level. This can reduce the average amount of fuel use by 3-4 percent. • Maintain proper engine tune-up to keep vehicles running efficiently. Keep the wheels aligned. Replace air filters as recommended. • Travel light. Avoid piling a lot of luggage on the roof rack. It reduces aerodynamics and hurts fuel economy. • Minimize use of heater and air conditioning. Decreasing usage of the A/C when temperatures are above 80 degrees can help you save 10-15 percent of fuel. Use the vent setting as much as possible. Also, park in the shade to keep car cool. • Close windows at high speeds. Don’t drive with the windows open unless your keep your speed under 50 mph. Driving with them open at highway speeds increases aerodynamic drag and lowers fuel economy. • Planning ahead to consolidate your trips will enable you to bypass congested routes, lead to less idling, fewer start-ups and less stop-and-go traffic. -30-