‘Slow is smooth and smooth is fast’—this famous military adage can be applied to anything and everything in life. Add to that ‘smooth is fuel efficient’. Recently, while ‘sanely’ driving the new Hyundai Elantra petrol on one of India’s newly-constructed highways, the car returned me fuel efficiency of 20.1kpl (far higher than its ARAI-certified fuel efficiency of 14.6kpl), even as the average speed I recorded was a rather high 61.25 km/h (according to various reports, the average speed on highways in India is 40 km/h). So, how can you pull it through? The answer is: Leave aggression at home. It simply means not accelerating sharply and not braking harshly (except in emergency conditions). Smooth acceleration leads to better fuel efficiency, even as the time one takes to cover the distance from point A to point B isn’t reduced, or gained, by a huge margin. In addition to fuel savings, such a driving pattern is also relatively safe.
Varun Dutt, associate professor at the School of Computing and Electrical Engineering at IIT Mandi, says that according to a recent research published in the ‘Road and Transport Research’ journal, elicited emotions (positive and negative) may impact driving performance. “The experience of stressful events (such as financial issues) may ‘spillover’ into other areas of one’s life, and impact driving safety; mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression, may impair driving performance and safety,” he says. According to the same study (https://bit.ly/2CNYSNn), a driver’s experience of observable emotion (anger, sadness, crying and agitation) is associated with 10 times increase in crash risk. “This risk is higher than that of texting while driving (6 times) and comparable to that of reading and writing while driving (10 times),” the research notes.
“It has also been observed that anger induction during driving negatively impacts driving performance and results in more lane-keeping errors, traffic-rule violations and aggressive driving compared to neutral or fear-emotional induction,” Prof Dutt says, adding that “happy drivers are better drivers.” When you drive in a relaxed manner, you have the opportunity (and the attention span) to study and observe, leading to recognising routes, landmarks and the landscape, and overall much more fulfilling driving experience.
(While driving the same car—the Elantra petrol—aggressively, and on the same highway over a few days, it returned me fuel efficiency of 13.1kpl at an average speed of a mere 33.12 km/h.)
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