Researchers from the DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory say you should drive more sensibly — if you like saving money, that is. They’ve recently published a paper analyzing the impact patterns of aggressive driving, such as speeding and forceful breaking, have on fuel economy.

Gas cannister.

Image via Pixabay.

Aggressive driving doesn’t pay — unless you’re a gas pump. Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers report that aggressive driving can slash fuel efficiency by between 10 to 40% in stop and go traffic, or between 15 to 30% at highway speeds in light-duty vehicles. All in all, it could end up costing you about $0.25 to $1 per gallon in wasted gas.

A burning question

The team started by analyzing previous studies to develop a new energy model that would be used for the paper. It was applied to two similar mid-sized sedans, one being a hybrid-electric vehicle (HEV) and the other a conventional gasoline vehicle. Both were run through driving experiments at the lab’s National Transportation Research Center, to see what difference in fuel consumption an aggressive driving style would cause. A point of particular interest for the team was to evaluate an HEV’s limitations when recapturing energy to replenish the battery during different levels of hard braking.

“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,” said ORNL’s John Thomas, lead author of the paper.

“Our findings added credence to the idea that an aggressive driving style does affect fuel economy probably more than people think.”

In the end, the team’s result confirmed popular wisdom, often self-reported by drivers — aggressive driving does impact fuel economy. They also showed that HEVs are more sensitive to driving style than conventional gasoline vehicles, although HEVs almost always achieve much better fuel economy. All in all, driving aggressively could take up to one dollar from your pocket per gallon of gas burned.

So if you like money (of course you do), driving more sensibly could be just the thing to put save up. Plus, you and yours will be safer on the road and you’ll also go to sleep with a smile knowing you helped save the penguins. Win-win-WIN!

You can see the team’s full dataset on the government site fueleconomy.gov, a platform maintained by the ORNL for DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy with data provided by the Environmental Protection Agency. The project aims to help consumers make informed fuel economy choices, along with other simple fuel-saving measures such as obeying posted speed limits, avoiding excessive idling or carrying too much weight, and using cruise control.

The paper “Fuel Consumption Sensitivity of Conventional and Hybrid Electric Light-Duty Gasoline Vehicles to Driving Style” has been published in the journal SAE International Journal of Fuels and Lubricants.

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