Hypermiling: Dangerous and Stupid, or Safe and Sensible?

Speeding car from Crestock Stock Photo

Unsafe Driving Practices that Waste Gas

The subject of hypermiling has come under controversy in the media because some people do stupid and dangerous things which they call “hypermiling” to “get better gas mileage.”

I almost don’t want to list these idiocies because I don’t want to give anyone ideas.  (Like telling a kid “don’t go in that room, it’s dangerous.)  But these practices are already published all over the Internet, along with warnings that they are illegal and unsafe.

Some examples of unsafe driving practices:

  • Turning off your motor to coast down hills (losing control of your car and of your power stearing.  This is also illegal).
  • Tailgating big trucks to ride along in their draft (dumb for obvious reasons.  If that truck comes to a sudden stop, you are toast, and when you are tailgating you can’t see around the truck very well, either.)
  • Overinflating tires (giving you less traction and wearing your tires down as well)
  • Rolling through stop signs (illegal for safety reasons)
  • Driving fast around curves instead of slowing down (one of the worst, possibly)
  • Driving below the speed limit
  • Etc.

Now, if a two-year-old baby runs out in front of your car suddenly, you will normally come to a screaching halt to avoid killing the child.  I don’t think you will come to a gradual stop with minimal pressure on the brakes, roll over the baby, and say “well, I was saving money on gas.”

Okay, maybe that is extreme.  But some people seem to think they are cool if they drive dangerously.  Well, I invite those people to think of someone they love and imagine how they would feel if that person was killed by an unscrupulous driver who – whoops!  ran into the pedestrian because he made a mistake while he was “being cool.”  The fact that the driver was being cool is not going to be much consolation.

On the other side of the coin, hypermiling techniques often follow the principles of safe driving.  There are many unsafe driving practices which waste gas.  True hypermilers should practice these habits and techniques to save gas and drive safely.

Here are some unsafe driving practices which waste gas:

  • Driving too fast
  • Braking too fast, when not necessary
  • Accelerating too fast
  • Driving with under-inflated tires (unsafe and bad for gas mileage)
  • Allowing your car to go without proper maintanence – this is neither safe nor fuel-efficient
  • Tearing around the town like a maniac, speeding around turns and coming to screaching halts, speeding up quickly, and generally acting like the “bad guys” on a car-racing drug-dealing drama film.

Other hypermiling techniques involve simple actions, which are neither unsafe nor difficult.  Such as not driving with extra weight in the car, avoiding stop-and-go traffic, driving within the speed-limit, filling up your gas tank in the morning, inflating your tires properly, and others.

By using sensible and safe hypermiling techniques you can make great gas mileage improvements while employing safe driving techniques – and in fact, while driving safer than many of the gas-guzzlers out there.

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