An Initial Review of the Impact of Fuel-Efficient Driving During Long Commutes


Before I get into what this is about, it’s very important that I make it clear that the results I’m presenting here are not final, by any means. The calculations I’m doing are rough and not refined, at all. Consider this more of a “fuzzy” impression rather than an actual result. But these basic calculations still present some interesting findings.

I’ve been waiting a long time to start this post and, originally, I thought it would only be a single post. However, the mathematics to present very specific findings requires some thought and, simply put, I am not proficient in maths.

Consider this a very high-level observation, perhaps more similar to looking at a city from space, as opposed to viewing a house on a specific street.

My final goal, which is not presented here, is to provide calculations that show the amount of fuel, and money, I’ve saved with the savings based on the price of gas at each refueling. That’s not here. Instead, for this post, I’m only working with grand totals and an average for fuel price. And the values that I’ve presented for a couple of “what if my MPG had been lower” scenarios are based on the number of miles that I drove. A true representation of the number of fill-ups would need to account for the fact that I can’t put more than 17 gallons in my car, so if my MPG dropped, I’d actually have more fill-ups.

So, let’s begin.

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Reducing Windshield Reflection of an Auto Meter 9105 ecometer Fuel Consumption Gauge Display


The Auto Meter 9105 ecometer Fuel Consumption Gauge works great but when driving at night I started to experience a slightly distracting problem. A reflection of the guage’s display was very visible higher up the windshield. This was probably aggravated by the fact that I have it placed directly on my dash, which curves up and thus causes the guage to be at more of an angle than if it was sitting flat.

I’ve managed to reduce the amount that is reflected, and could eliminate it further with a small modification, by building an extension of the guage’s hood. I lucked out and was able to find some black vinyl just sitting around (I originally asked a friend if he had some black construction paper but he had something better – vinyl), which I affixed to the hood of the guage with electrical tape to extend it out. This little trick seems to have been a significant improvement when driving at night.



Why do people in the South wave when passed on the road?


I should have posted this one a very long time ago. Reviewing another post reminded me that not everyone traveling through will know this. It you drive through the South, especially in Alabama, and you’re not from the region then it may seem a bit strange your first time.

The answer isn’t a major mystery.

They’re just being friendly.

Wave back, if you have a chance. It doesn’t require a big wave. Raising a couple of fingers off the wheel for a second or a nod is just fine.

And don’t worry if you miss it or just don’t feel like waving back. Nobody’s going to turn around and corner you (that’s a form of thought caused by very bad movie stereotypes).

It’s just a common courtesy.

That’s it.

And yes, the S is capitalized on purpose.

Why do people drive on the shoulder in west Texas?


So others can pass without waiting for a normal passing zone.

If you’re driving in that part of the country and someone starts riding the shoulder they are probably trying to signal for you to do the same. Unlike the area where I live, those roads have shoulders that are almost a full lane width and are paved the same as the regular lanes.

It may seem unusual, but it’s considered common courtesy in such areas to ride the shoulder to allow the vehicle behind to pass. My guess is this came about because traveling the desert roads often involves a lot of distance – nobody wants to be stuck behind a slower vehicle for a long time. The availability of safe passing areas without riding the shoulder varies.

A common signal that someone wants you to drive on the shoulder is simply that they’re riding close on your rear. Basically, any time a vehicle is moving as though it’s ready to pass is usually a clear indicator.

It should go without saying that common sense applies when performing this maneuver. For example, in any place where the shoulder narrows or there are guardrails are bad locations. In addition, it’s wise to make sure that the shoulder itself is clear of obstructions. And, as usual, if it seems risky at the speed limit then just let off the gas a bit once you’re over.

While I don’t know if this is officially sanctioned, I can testify that I witnessed a highway patrol vehicle do this very thing in order to allow us to pass, while he slowed down for unknown reasons.