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Old 20th December 2013, 12:28   #1
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Default Fuel-efficient driving = Safer driving

The reason to write today is a recent discovery that I have made which is the subject matter of this letter. Mileage Indicators are indeed a safety feature!

All this started when I had bought my first Maruti 800- 5 speed MPFI. I was a very fast and unsafe driver. I could never tolerate anyone trying to overtake me, and I liked to race with all the cars on the street, and would try to beat them, automatically, without being aware of it. I was constantly made aware of this by the passengers in the cars- holding on to their dear life! I knew that this was not right but was not able change my driving style. But after a few real near misses, I realized that I have to somehow make sure that I drive safely and was still not able to do it, this made me think of focusing on some other aspect of driving. So, I started to race with the mileage instead of the cars on the road. That is- I started trying to beat the mileage that I got from last tankful to tankful. This made me a safer driver. Later, as I went on buying costlier cars, my driving style changed further. Earlier, I used to bully the autos (rikshas) and cabbies on the streets but when I bought the Accord V6, the game turned around and the autos started bullying me! Even a small scratch spoils the beauty of the car and the repairs become hugely costly!

I had a Hyundai Santro as the city car but I was too irritated by the poor quality and poorer mileage from that car- 9-10 KMPL in city. So recently, I bought the Honda Amaze diesel. It was primarily the city car but it quickly replaced the Accord as the highway car. As everyone knows, this car gives unbelievable mileage. And for a guy like me who used an Accord V6 earlier, this was a great surprise. You can never compare the highway mileage of the cars- 9-10 KMPL on Petrol to 25.4 KMPL on Diesel! Yes, that is the mileage that we got on our way back from Goa- Madgaon to Goregaon (Mumbai) in 24.6 liters!

But what made me even more surprised was the fact that I was driving the Amaze very carefully, not accelerating hard, coasting a lot, not braking hard, etc. All this was because the speedo display was set to show the mileage and any of the above kind of rash driving was sending the mileage figure down.
With the speedo display set to show mileage obtained, trying to extract high mileage is great fun, and you really feel very happy to see the 20+ mileage figures. But if you get an adrenalin rush to go faster, you try to curb it as soon as possible as this reduces the mileage very quickly. If the mileage display is showing 24.5 KMPL (it does very often, in an Amaze) and you accelerate fast, do some quick overtakes, or even just start going over 100 kmph, the mileage figure drops very rapidly to 21-22, and it takes a long time to bring it up back to 24+. So you try to avoid driving brashly and this makes you a safer driver!! That is why I feel that this continuous mileage readout is more of a safety feature than anything else! I trust that all of you will surely agree! Furthermore, the side effect of this is less wear and tear due to smooth driving style.
I trust that you will strongly agree to this. Please do comment.
Capt. Shyam Patwardhan

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Last edited by bblost : 20th December 2013 at 16:04.
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Old 20th December 2013, 15:59   #2
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Default re: Fuel-efficient driving = Safer driving

I would agree to that, but I never thought of it from the safety point of view until now. I noticed my friend drives his Jazz very sanely and is regularly checking his FE. He's managed to squeeze 20+kmpl on his petrol Jazz on highways and never exceeds 80-85kmph. But, is it also possible that it's equally distracting for the driver to constantly check his FE, and hence probably negates any safety added by it?

One thing I'd be happy about is the overall lesser fuel usage that is encouraged by FE meters. The whole nation could do better using lesser natural resources!

You write well Captain. Please "Preview" your posts and format them before posting so we can all benefit from your great writing. This one's become sort of a mess.
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Old 20th December 2013, 16:19   #3
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Default re: Fuel-efficient driving = Safer driving

Quote:
Originally Posted by hellmet View Post
But, is it also possible that it's equally distracting for the driver to constantly check his FE, and hence probably negates any safety added by it?
+1. Even I feel that too much lurking into the FE figures can somewhat distract a driver by taking away his normal driving technique. For eg. while trying to extract best FE figures, one tends to avoid hard braking. Being overcautious of this fact can sometimes hold you up when a hard braking is actually required. Also, at times, there are situations when you have to accelerate faster than normal by downshifting (& hence building up higher rpms) to clear the way for oncoming vehicles, either due to potholes or while overtaking a slow moving vehicle, etc. In such situations, the FE fact playing in mind again may not let you freely accelerate/ downshift at times.
What I have pointed out is based on my personal experiences; hence my driving philosophy is now changed from:

1. During teenage : Aggressive, undeclared racings with fellow motorists.

2. During the first half of my twenties: Somewhat mellow; but flared up when shown aggression by other motorists.

3. Nearing 30s: This is where I am. I am a much matured driver now, that I can say. I never bother about the hours I am taking to cover a particular stretch or if a humble Nano overtakes me (no offence meant to Nano owners please). Just watch for these things: a) Safety first, b) comfortable ride (not only for me but also all my passengers & even the car) and then c) The FE.

Incidentally, when I am observing the first 2 factors (a & b), the third factor (FE) is automatically very satisfying. Last month, during my 1000 KM run, my petrol car yielded about 19-20 KMPL (with 4 adults and heavy luggage) which is always acceptable. About 250 kms were done on potholed roads.

Last edited by saket77 : 20th December 2013 at 16:24.
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Old 20th December 2013, 16:29   #4
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Smile re: Fuel-efficient driving = Safer driving

I wouldnt attach any direct safety benefit to the Mileage displays but economical benefit, yes. That will be an inspiration to drive sanely on the Indian roads. If you are within the road speed limits you can achieve a bettery mileage. I have been regularly achieving a healthy mileage of 20kmpl on the combined city & highway drives while maintaining a steady average speed of 60-65 kmph.

I recall a few ads by PCRA about saving fuel by driving in the 45-50 kmph bracket a substantial economic benefit would be achieved.
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Old 20th December 2013, 17:11   #5
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Default Re: Fuel-efficient driving = Safer driving

Addictive though it might be to try and extract the best FE possible from any car (and the KMPL readout on the MID certainly helps to inspire that activity), it really isn't the safest way to drive, contrary to what the thread title suggests. It is very easy to start 'hypermiling' (To save fuel, a new fad called ‘hypermiling’) - the linked thread has already discussed the pros and cons of doing so.
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Old 20th December 2013, 19:52   #6
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Default Re: Fuel-efficient driving = Safer driving

I think mileage driving = safe driving, if only you don't go overboard with it by shifting to neutral while coming down bridges, ghats or shift to 5th at 40 kmph.

Otherwise driving from a mileage point of view generally means you are driving slowly and safely as otherwise you would not get good mileage.

To put this in perspective. I would pedal to the metal my car on every empty road in the night while getting back from our factory. This led to me getting a highway full tank range of around 560 to 570, with the mileage when doing a full tank hovering around 16 to 16.5, even though I was totally driving on the highway.

Since last 2 months, I stuck a sticker to my dashboard which read.

1) No revving above 2800 rpm

2) No driving over 120 kmph EVER

3) No racing with anyone.

When ever I get the urge, I look at the sticker.

I shift now at around 2200 rpm, I don't want the acceleration and hence I don't care even if the next gear change falls below the turbo band. I smoothly accelerate, shift to 5th at around 65 kmph and drive at 80 and 90 most of the time with blips of 100 to 110 once in a while.

At half tank mark, my car usually used to run for 330 to 340 km, Now half tank is reached at around 430 km to 440 km km.

On the plus side, my driving has become utterly superbly safe. There is never a scare because I am never going that fast to not handle anything which might come my way.

My 2 cents.
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Old 20th December 2013, 20:43   #7
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Default Re: Fuel-efficient driving = Safer driving

I will go in the favour of this statement. With ever rising of the fuel prices, my conversation from a boy racer to sane driver was obvious and I did felt the difference. With the efficiency in the mind, we naturally tend to drive safer as with efficient driving, things like anticipated braking, coasting(in gear), graduall acceleration and de-acceleration, maintaining safe distance etc come along with it. One more thing I will like to add that this kind of driving is way more relaxing and rewarding, one gets less exhausted. So all in all driving efficiently is way to go, but like many members pointed, it should not be so addictive that one gets directed by it! A balanced approach must be used.
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Old 20th December 2013, 20:58   #8
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Default Re: Fuel-efficient driving = Safer driving

Here is my take on safe driving, with nearly 14 years of driving across south India.

If one is over taking almost all similar type/powered vehicles as what he/she is driving, then the drive is faster and aggressive; time to slow down.

Other way around, if similar type/powered vehicles overtaking one's vehicle, then he/she is driving slow and slowing down the traffic; then one needs to speedup.

Simply put, be with the traffic.
Exceptions are crazy drive like start of long weekend driving out of Bangalore, not sure what is safe way to drive, other than avoiding that day.

Last edited by manjubp : 20th December 2013 at 21:00.
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Old 20th December 2013, 21:11   #9
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Default Re: Fuel-efficient driving = Safer driving

Quote:
Originally Posted by Capt. Shyam View Post
.... Mileage Indicators are indeed a safety feature! ...
There are two ways of looking at it. Fuel Efficient driving need not always be safe.

Consider this situation 1:
You are cruising at a really efficient speed.

You approach a small town.

You dont want to brake as you lose momentum and hence might need to change gears, and lose your efficiency. So, you try to zig-zag through obstacles (men, vehicles, goats, cows etc..), trying hard to maintain that efficient speed and throttle.

As a result you are traveling faster than is safer through that town. And you driving is really unsafe.

Consider Situation 2:
You are cruising at a really efficient speed.

A marginally slower 10+ wheeler truck in front of you.

To not loose momentum and hence efficiency, you decide to overtake it.

Still keeping efficiency in mind, you don't downshift or accelerate, and take your own sweet time overtaking the long 10+ wheeler.

Half way through you see a vehicle in the opposite.

You still maintain your speed, hence efficent driving, and push the oncoming vehicle off-the- road.

End up being unsafe.

-------------------------------------------------------------

Trust me, with ration pocket money in college, I've experimented this and much more..

Quote:
Fuel-efficient driving = Safer driving
Safe driving is something entriely different. You might need to compromise on many things to drive safe. Including your emotional outbursts (road rage)
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Old 20th December 2013, 21:26   #10
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Default Re: Fuel-efficient driving = Safer driving

An extreme at either end of the spectrum is bad.

But all things remaining the same (skill, car, experience), someone who loves the FE counter is definitely safer than one addicted to the redline.

To derive maximum fuel economy, you have to drive in a smooth calculated manner, keeping the speedometer & rpm needle in control. Not too different from the best practices of safe driving.
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Old 20th December 2013, 21:48   #11
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Default Re: Fuel-efficient driving = Safer driving

Safe driving according to me is the art of maintaining a speed so that there will be minimal overtaking / being overtaken by other vehicles.

Needless to mention, a safe braking distance is mandated.

So the fuel efficiency that i get by avoiding unnecessary acceleration/braking and coasting practice is only a by-product of such a safer driving.

I cannot claim driving at a sedate 60 kmph at an expressway to be the safest driving.
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Old 21st December 2013, 09:12   #12
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Default Re: Fuel-efficient driving = Safer driving

Safety and efficiency are not byproducts or in relation with each other. Both are equally important, but distinct concepts. Safety can be practiced, to a high standard if one is driving with an eye on efficiency or revving to the redline in each gear.

For example, revving the nuts of your car/bike on a track day, with full protection, is immensely safe. Likewise hypermiling on a empty road is very safe too. However racing on a busy road, or coasting at 60kmph on the expressway is a recipe for disaster.

There have been documented cases, where in driving just under the speed limit on a featureless straight highway has lead to the driver dozing off and crashing!! Likewise several cases, where rashly driven vehicles have been involved in or caused crashes.

I feel, safety is best practiced when we think of the classic "horses for courses" approach. Depending on the vehicle, the driver skill, the traffic, weather conditions, road conditions, a particular speed/set of speeds need to be maintained. It may be a blitzing 150kmph or a pedestrian 50kmph, or even a combination of these over a long trip.
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Old 21st December 2013, 11:22   #13
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Default Re: Fuel-efficient driving = Safer driving

Quote:
Originally Posted by hellmet View Post
I would agree to that, but I never thought of it from the safety point of view until now. I noticed my friend drives his Jazz very sanely and is regularly checking his FE. He's managed to squeeze 20+kmpl on his petrol Jazz on highways and never exceeds 80-85kmph. But, is it also possible that it's equally distracting for the driver to constantly check his FE, and hence probably negates any safety added by it?

One thing I'd be happy about is the overall lesser fuel usage that is encouraged by FE meters. The whole nation could do better using lesser natural resources!

You write well Captain. Please "Preview" your posts and format them before posting so we can all benefit from your great writing. This one's become sort of a mess.
Dear Sir,

Thank you very much for your comments and kind words. Your point is well noted I will be more careful about the format. Please do excuse me as this was my first time.

Your concern about the driver getting distracted by looking at the efficiency is understood, but I can tell you from my experience that there is no danger of distraction at all, it is as easy as checking the speed.

The point I wanted to make was driving with an aim to improve the efficiency of the car takes you away to safety from the biggest driving hazard, that is competing and road rage!

Trust you agree.

(Hope I have not messed the format this time!)

Best Regards,
Shyam
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Old 23rd December 2013, 12:49   #14
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Default Re: Fuel-efficient driving = Safer driving

Hi Captain,

If you drive safe, am sure you will get good mileage. The biggest mistake one does is to get into a rat race of who gets first with car in the next lane. This rat race will force you to over speed and brake late to get an edge over your competition. By doing so, you are ruining your mileage, clutch, suspension, etc.

I second Dhanush's opinion. Many times we get into such situations and we should avoid that.

I prefer to see mileage once will re-filling the fuel tank through our traditional way. Continuously looking at mileage on MID is more of a distraction for your mind.

I suggest you drive within the RMP limits of the car and you will get desired mileage.

Happy Driving

Tejas
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Old 23rd December 2013, 16:50   #15
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Default Re: Fuel-efficient driving = Safer driving

Hi Captain

Driving sedately is definitely safer & economical, as a matter of fact even the engine lasts longer, so do the tyres. However a dash on the highway once in a while is absolutely fine.

Driving slowly with an objective to attain better FE is good, but one needs to drive sanely as well. I have actually seen people driving slowly but with total disregard to rules (like shifting lanes & trying to take a left when you are on the right side of the road).

If everyone drove slowly then any accidents will only be minor with less damage, in most cases a good driver should be able to avert them. I firmly believe driving safe is to obey the rules & ensure one drives within speed limits. FE does matter but is always secondary to life.
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