“We’re finally starting to see a lot more people moderating their driving and going a little slower – and that’s nice,” he says. “But moderate isn’t enough when all this stuff is so easy. We can’t afford to ‘just drive’ anymore. We have to use the tools we know.”
Zen and the art of ‘no brakes’
Jack-rabbit starts are obviously out, he says. So is heavy braking. His new mantra is “DWB,” or “Drive Without Brakes,” which means driving almost as if you didn’t have them – gliding to stops instead of accelerating to them. Using momentum to sling-shot a vehicle through turns instead of braking first, then accelerating. Changing to synthetic oil, taking heavy junk out of the car’s trunk, and minimizing the use of air conditioning – which can cut mileage by 5 to 25 percent.
This last step may be hard for many. But it makes perfect sense to Gerdes, who began hypermiling as a patriotic gesture after 9/11 to help make the nation more energy secure. Even so, few were interested until gas prices climbed after hurricane Katrina.
Now with gas prices higher still, dollar-saving driving is the new incentive. To deal with that, 66 percent of Americans said they would change driving habits and 71 percent said they were thinking about buying a fuel-sipping vehicle, according to a recent CNN/Opinion Research poll.