Hypermiling: what is this strange word? According to the New Oxford American Dictionary it is the attempt to maximize gas mileage by making fuel-conserving adjustments to one's vehicle and one's driving techniques. (EERE) So how can we, as citizens become hypermilers?

Drivers can increase a vehicle's fuel efficiency by remaining focused while driving and anticipating the need to brake or accelerate. Hypermilers seek to minimize both braking and rapid acceleration. Another way to improve fuel economy is by planning routes in advance to determine the shortest distance and fewest stops. Fuel can be saved by shutting the engine off, rather than allowing it to idle while stopped or parked. Also, drivers should be conscious of other behaviors that may potentially soak up a vehicle's fuel such as running the air conditioning or driving with the windows down.

Hypermiling has become a sport for some people and they have had contests like seeing who can go the furthest distance on a tank of gas. People seeking to become a hypermiler for sport or even leisure need to be aware that some of the things considered to be efficient in hypermiling techniques are in fact illegal. Such things as, tailgating semi-trucks, rolling through stop signs and over-inflating tires have been embraced by eco-drivers but outlawed by motoring authorities. Another practice that is being used is “ridge-riding" which is driving with two left wheels on the painted white line on the highway to reduce friction, a practice even more effective in wet weather. (Browne) Ridge-riding has many implications involved with it. By driving on the white line you run the risk of running off the road (especially in wet weather), hitting cyclists and pedestrians.

The Hypermiling Safety Foundation is aggressively acting to counter misconceptions with a public awareness campaign centered on the concept of "Lawful Hypermiling.” The goal is to educate non-Hypermilers, law enforcement, the press, and legislators about who Hypermilers are, the benefits of Hypermiling, and how to share the road safely with Hypermilers.
I think that as consumers who care about the fuel crisis going on around us, we need to be aware that some of the techniques that we are using can be dangerous. I think that this point is proven with new word: hypermiling and the awareness that follows it. While using certain techniques to improve our fuel efficiency, we need to keep in mind that not all of them are great and some of them are down right illegal.

By Kallie Martin

Browne, Rachel. “Motorists risking their lives to save on petrol.” The Sydney Morning Herald. 24 August 2008. 2 August 2009 .

Hypermiling Safety Foundation. 2 August 2009 .

“Progressive Automotive X Prize Expanded to Include Major Automakers.” Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. 14 January 2009. 2 August 2009 .