‘Hypermiling’ poses safety risks

A growing legion of motorists are taking notice of their fuel economy and altering their driving styles to maximize mileage. However, the American Trucking Associations’ has voiced concern that the practice of ‘Hypermiling’ is posing risks to truckers and other drivers.
Hypermiling refers to “making skillful changes to the way you drive” according to one Washington Post article on the subject. Unfortunately, a commonly-used tactic involves closely following or ‘drafting’ tractor-trailers, much like NASCAR drivers do amongst each other on superspeedways.
A number of Web sites on hypermiling have popped up and the ATA is working to have their references to drafting removed. The risks of tailgating tractor-trailers are obvious, and far outweigh any fuel savings.
Some sites also suggest shutting down a hybrid vehicle while coasting to a stop in traffic. Sounds great, except that you lose control of certain vehicle functions when the vehicle is turned off. It’s great to see the general public is beginning to understand the benefits of fuel-efficient driving styles. Truckers have been employing fuel-efficient driving techniques for many years but I guess it takes a buzzword like ‘hypermiling’ to bring it into the mainstream. Hopefully motorists will use common sense and realize there’s a fine line between driving for maximum fuel mileage and risking your life and the lives of others.
After all, that hybrid driver may find himself underneath your rig if he spends too much time watching the fuel MPG readout and not enough time anticipating the traffic flow ahead.

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James Menzies is editor of Today's Trucking. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 20 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at james@newcom.ca or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies.

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  • What is with the truckers and having a car tailing them by a car length or two? Even with the extra fraction of a second, a car still stops sooner than a big rig will. Has there become a rash of rearend crashes recently? Not at all.
    Why be concerned over something inconsequential as this subject? How about car drivers who flash their lights for a passing trucker to let them know it’s safe to merge back into the lane again BUT the trucker ignores the courtesy return flash? Truckers are the most courteous drivers on the highways, but this rudeness to a car driver who actually flashes his lights for a trucker just pushes the envelope. In the past 3 years I always flashed for a trucker, you know how many acknowledgments I get in return? 1. In 3 years, the hundreds of truckers I flashed my lights for, 1 has the decency to return the courtesy. It’s a long way from a decade ago when I got 100% return of the courtesy.