Written by BSM, a Geotab Company
on November 09, 2018
The best way to save on gas is by driving a fuel-efficient vehicle – but a lot of the time that is not an option, mainly because it’s just not in the budget to purchase new vehicles. Good news! There are other ways to save on gas – The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) study on eco-drivin confirms results that factors that drivers have control over can contribute to nearly a 50% reduction in the on-road fuel economy per driver. Below is a summary of this study which focuses on good eco driving practices specifically vehicle maintenance, driver performance, and route selection.

Vehicle Maintenance

Regardless of vehicle type, by being pro-active about your vehicles’ maintenance – keeping your engines tuned, having your tires properly inflated, and changing and using the right kind of engine oil can improve fuel economy by up to 40%.

Driver Performance

Good driving behaviour such as driving slower and less aggressively can save on a vehicles’ gas usage by up to 30%. Reducing your idle time to less than one minute can also significantly improve your fuel efficiency. Also, rolling down the windows to get a nice breeze rather than turning on the air conditioner can save up to 25%. In addition, letting a vehicle idle for more than a minute can significantly reduce fuel economy. Here’s an eco driving tip: try using cruise control to avoid speeding on the highway which can save you up to 7%.

Route Selection

Furthermore, efficient route selection can help save on gas. When selecting a route it is important to include highways, flat terrain and less traffic roads. For instance driving on a flat terrain instead of lots of hills can improve your fuel economy by 15% to 20%. In addition, driving on roads with less traffic can improve your trip’s fuel economy by 20% to 40%.

Positive Effects for Eco Drivers

The study which includes this chart shows a sample scenario of the cumulative effect of disregarding good eco driving practices on the most fuel efficient vehicle (36 MPG).


Fuel Economy (MPG)

Nominal performance


Aggressive driving (-25%)


Driving at excessively high speeds (-6%)


Route selection (-6%)


Out-of-tune engine (-4%)


Tires with increased rolling resistance (-4%)


Using Air Conditioner (-4%)


Excessive idling (-2%)


Extra Weight (-1.5%)


Improper oil (-1.5%)


Underinflated tires (-1.5%)


Source: UMTRI 2011 Study

You can see overlooking these factors can have a significant effect on a vehicle’s fuel efficiency!

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