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UMTRI study: Driving habits can cut fuel consumption

September 11, 2011

While driving a fuel-efficient vehicle is the best way to save gas, motorists can still cut fuel consumption nearly in half by driving slower and less aggressively, properly maintaining their vehicles, and avoiding congested roads, according to UMTRI researchers.

"Driving a light-duty vehicle in the United States is currently more energy-intensive than using a bus or a train and even flying," said UMTRI research professor Michael Sivak. "How can we improve on this performance? Vehicle selection has by far the most dominant effect--the best vehicle currently available for sale in the United States is nine times more fuel-efficient than the worst vehicle.

"Nevertheless, remaining factors that a driver has control over can contribute, in total, to about a 45 percent reduction in the on-road fuel economy per driver--a magnitude well worth emphasizing."

Sivak and colleague Brandon Schoettle studied the effects of decisions that drivers can make to influence on-road fuel economy of light-duty vehicles. These eco-driving practices include strategic decisions (vehicle selection and maintenance), tactical decisions (route selection and vehicle load), and operational decisions (driver behavior).

Read the full U-M news release.

Read an article on the study in USA Today.