Accelerator Sense - A Light Right Foot

Fuel consumption and the environmental benefits of advanced driving techniques go hand in hand. Key to both is "acceleration sense". One question you might ask yourself is: "What is the delay time between you lifting off the accelerator and applying the brake?"

Acceleration sense is about how you vary your foot pressure on the accelerator pedal so you don’t have to brake. Surprisingly to some, one of the pillars of fuel efficient driving is accelerating briskly to a safe cruising speed. A good test for fuel efficient driving is to imagine yourself somewhere that allows you to achieve an average speed between 30mph and 50mph, where you may need to brake regularly. Then increase that delay time: the longer you can avoid braking the more you are using the momentum you’ve built up. It means thinking a bit further ahead of where you are. Most drivers tend to go straight from accelerator to brake - and that is when fuel consumption suffers.

Another example: imagine we are in town approaching a roundabout. Where do you want the vehicle ahead of you to be when you reach the next roundabout? The more skillful you become at timing, the more fuel efficient you will be. It’s much better if the vehicle ahead is moving into the roundabout when you arrive.

And lastly, think long and hard about that overtake. Not only do you have to be entirely sure you can get past safely (important, to put it mildly) there is also the possibility that you are not gaining much in journey time. Advanced driving is all about thinking ahead, sometimes further than you can see. And it’s not fuel efficient driving if the driver you overtake is still right behind you when you reach the next urban area.

29 April 2006 Staff

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