Research: How to Increase Fuel Efficiency by Changing Driver Behavior

There of course, are many ways you can reduce fuel consumption. You can reduce the weight of the vehicle, as well as making the vehicle engines more efficient and use alternative fuels. But what if fuel economy could be improved simply by changing the way drivers behave? That’s exactly what researchers at the University of California, Riverside’s Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CERT) are working on. This group of scientists is conducting research to find ways in which the changes to our driving behavior can maximize ileage and improve fuel efficiency up to 30 percent.

Lead researcher Kanok Boriboonsomsin decided that the first stage of the study is to examine how gps tracking can help determine fuel efficient routes and how “infotainment” systems can provide real-time feedback without distracting drivers. The key is, though, that drivers would have to listen to the feedback and adjust their driving accordingly.

By examining and validating these tracking and infotainment  systems, the CERT researchers plan to create the best system that both emphasizes fuel efficiency and isn’t annoying the driver, which is very  important, because you don’t want a system based only on negative feedback.

Almost all hybrid and electric vehicles today come equipped with some system notifying drivers about their fuel economy. “Even though our cars are fuel efficient, we don’t want that to stop at the factory,” said Fiat brand manager Andrew Waterhouse to CNN. “We want people to continue to be mindful of how they’re driving and how to improve their driving.”

CERT’s lead researcher, Boriboonsomsin says that a large part of their research will focus on GPS systems finding the most fuel efficient routes. Instead of a negative reinforcement system telling drivers what not to do , he suggests that the ideal system would relay helpful real-time tips in a positive way, like “make a right to avoid unnecessary idling at a stoplight.” As it turns out, this type of positive encouragement is missing in most driver information systems.

This type of system will also work well for commercial fleets where saving on fuel is number one concern! Fleet tracking systems that include a driver training component as well as offer ways to monitor drivers’ behavior and offer support for implementing fuel efficient driving should be considered by fleet managers as the best system to get for their fleet.


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