Wednesday, May 14, 2008

How Green is My Driving?

Around 400 Denver residents, including the city's mayor, are part of an experiment called "Driving Change." The program has been running since mid-March, and on Monday participants were able to check their "scores" online for the first time.

The program will run until the first quarter of 2009. The technology used measures not just the CO2 emissions of the vehicle, but also the acceleration and g-forces the car is subjected to, to determine a correlation between aggressive driving and greenhouse gas emissions. Data is transmitted to a server via a cellular modem.

Aggressive driving, as defined by the program, falls into the following categories:
  • Speeding
  • Hard Braking
  • Idling
  • Fast Starts
Aside from idling, they all seem to fall into the same sort of mindset. Get me there fast, fast, faster. Let's face it, with a 65 MPH speed limit in California, it unusual to see someone driving less than 70. The graph to the left, from the EPA's Fuel Economy site, shows just how quickly MPG drops as MPH goes up.

When users log in to their personal dashboard, they'll be able to see their scores in the various areas and be given tips on how to improve their scores.

While it's nice to see attention focused on this subject, I have to say, putting on my "common sense" hat, that even without this study, slowing down will have the greatest impact. While people keep pointing at new designs, new engines, hybrids, electric cars and other such ideas, if we just instituted the 55 MPH speed limit again - and enforced it - we would save a ton of gasoline and reduce CO2 emissions.

And for those who say it will hurt the economy:

1) What good is an economy with an unlivable planet?
2) Long-haul truckers and airlines are already slowing down on their own. That probably means they think they will save more money by slowing down than they will lose by delivering items more slowly. Common sense tells me this means we should slow down the general populace.

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