Chicago (IL) – Each Year the New Oxford American Dictionary gets ready for the holiday season by making its biggest yearly announcement, the word of the year. The word of the year for 2008 is, drumroll please, “hypermiling”.
Are you guilty of making sure that your tires are properly inflated in effort to maximize your gas mileage? At stop lights, do you shut off your engine rather than idle for a lengthy period of time? In parking lots, do you park at the highest point so you can let your car roll to the exit without turning the engine on? Do you avoid breaking in Freeway exit corners? Do you travel behind larger cars at short distances?
If your answer to all of these questions was yes, there is a good chance that you, my friend, are a hypermiler. Individuals who hypermile, make it their personal goal to exceed the EPA ratings for miles per gallon.
Most of the methods utilized by hypermilers are plain common sense. They tend to drive the speed limit, avoid stop and go traffic and hills, keep their tires properly inflated, get rid of excess baggage, and not let their car run idle. However, there are some extreme practices such as not wearing shoes while driving- which supposedly increases your foot’s sensitivity on the pedals, parking so that there is no need to back up when leaving the space, and also ridge riding- which is driving with your tires lined up with the white line so that you don’t drive through water-filled ruts in the road when it is raining.
Hypermiling is often criticized because the driving tactics are illegal and often dangerous. Over inflating tires, rolling through stop signs, and following large vehicles to closely in an effort to reduce wind resistance are all dangerous practices. The American Automobile Association has issued multiple statements warning individuals of the dangers of hypermiling.
In 2008, hypermiling received positive attention, it was adopted into the mainstream as the price of gas skyrocketed and our country wanted to reduce its independence on fossil fuels, namely those from foreign sources. The Association of Automobile Manufacturers launched EcoDriving, which was a highly supported practice which involved many concepts taken from hypermiling.
An Australian couple is believed to hold the record for the highest gas efficiency. Earlier this year, Helen and John Taylor, drove their stock Peugeot 308 HDi, a compact car with a diesel engine, 9000 miles through Australia and achieve an efficiency of 75.6 mpg (90.75 mpg using imperial gallons). They also hold the record for the most miles driven on a single tank of gas – 1192 miles using 15.8 gallons.