Stop Complaining and Blame Yourself

Here’s a good way for the government to reduce the heat it’s taking about high gas prices: giving every American a miles-per-gallon meter (worth about $200).

The Web site Hypermiling claims that knowing your gas mileage is the best way to cut gas consumption.

Using a meter and gas-saving driving techniques, self proclaimed “King of Hypermilers” Wayne Gerdes recently got his Honda Accord up to 50 mpg.

Looks like radio stations and other Hypermilers seem to be excited about it.

But are we really ready (or willing) to be responsible for our own consumption?

(Hat tip: Arjun Chakravarti)

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  1. charles says:

    Nope. In aggregate we are a sad lot of complainers with juvenile dispositions – it’s the paradox of the wisdom of crowds. Crack out any one of us and maybe that individual will acknowledge the concept of individual responsibility, yet he/she will likely be farther from the mean when predicting something esoteric like the net weight of the world supply of blue whale vomit. So we’d rather close our eyes and go with the flow.

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  2. Mike "Dub" Wainwright says:

    This is exactly what I’ve been saying for the last few weeks! I truly believe that if people realized how their driving effects their mileage, people would have a strong incentive to drive more efficiently. I think a 10% reduction in gas consumption would be achieveable within a year, if everyone had a meter installed at their yearly vehicle inspection.
    If only the government would start implementing small, creative solutions like this to ease us off of oil. We’re all waiting for the sweeping, massive change to take care of everything, but incremental reductions are far easier (and cheaper!) to acheive, and less likely to be politically deadlocked in partisan bickering.

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  3. Ironman says:

    “But are we ready (or willing) to be responsible for our own consumption?”

    It depends. Given the effective dollar figures that many of these so-called hypermilers are actually attaching to the value of their lives, how much real responsibility are they really taking?

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  4. Mitch says:

    I completely agree that a real-time monitor for gas mileage would encourage drivers to drive more efficiently. Our new Civic Hybrid has both a real-time gauge and an historic meter for gas mileage; I can literally see how driving 3 or 4 miles faster on the interstate (from 68 or 69 to 72 or 73) decreases fuel efficiency by about 15%. It’s a fantastic tool for decreasing fuel use.

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  5. econobiker says:

    How come I get 35-39 mpg on a 1995 Dodge Neon with over 200,000 miles when all these “new” fuel efficient cars don’t? Probably mainly due to a stick shift 5 speed manual transmission and no a/c (broke and replaced belt with non a/c version). The only other item is frequent oil changes( every 3000 miles, recycle oil, and punch/drain oil filter) plus max air pressure in tires. This is a combined tank of city/highway driving and not a slow highway but 65 to 80mph at times. Ditch the automatic and get a manual to rely get better mileage…

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  6. petr says:

    Instead of the government “giving every American a miles per gallon meter” (which seems wasteful since not every American drives a car…) why doesn’t the government just mandate that car companies must provide a miles per gallon meter with every new car. Much like the odometer and airbags, which have already been done, it’ll just be part of the car.

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  7. Neil says:

    There’s a big gap between insane hypermilers, who have taken the idea to a ridiculous extreme. and the impact a real-time meter would have on the average person.

    The real time meter encourages reduced speeds, slower acceleration, and other things which will actually reduce crashes. In crazy people, it induces them to increase mileage in every way possible, regardless of the cost, the the effect in agregate is likely to be calmer roads.

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  8. Mike B says:

    Aside from removing unnecessary weight from one’s vehicle perhaps the most common sense move to increase millage is to drive in such a way that one does not have to use the brake. Put another way, why speed up to slow down. If there’s a red light or congestion ahead just lay off and coast.

    The more difficult choices comes with the issue of slowing down and in some cases acceleration. People need to calculate the value of their free time and make a choice about gas consumption vs free time. Also, where one knows the light timings there is the tradeoff between using gas to accelerate to make a light vs using gas to idle at the light (and accelerate from a stop). It is much better to not get stuck for a stop light, but if one mis-judges they could be forced to slam on the brakes even harder and end up wasting even more gas.

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