The Hidden Costs of Aggressive Driving

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Our engineer, Ted, spent some time modeling acceleration patterns and fuel consumption in several vehicles and did some cool analysis to dig deeper into the effects of aggressive driving. Read all about it and check out his neat visualizations on our blog.

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Automatic Team, Official Rep

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  • DataHappy

Posted 4 years ago

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CJ Siano

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Interesting, but it ignores a very real world need for a hard acceleration.

Traffic gaps.

The theory that avoiding a hard acceleration at all costs will save you money is moot when you are waiting for a gap in traffic to allow you to merge or cross. Sitting at idle waiting for a gap large enough to slowly merge can easily cost you more than the brief burst needed to complete the merge in a more timely manner.

As I have several such crossings on my daily commute, I get dinged often for these, but at no point does Automatic take into consideration the time spent at idle or the potential idle time saved. (how could it?)

Knowing when a burst of speed is actually the more economical choice is what makes good drivers far superior to gizmos.

Of course, as with anything, such a realization does not equate to better economy when every 'gap' situation is handled with the right foot. Experience and observation are needed to evaluate and decide.

Don't get me wrong, I think Automatic is a good product, but as you become a more efficient driver, you'll reach a point where your skills trump the device.


There are also those times when regardless of the inefficiency of the action, it is just FUN to drop the hammer and allow your vehicle to go for it. When done in a sane manner, even such activity can result in fairly low impact on overall efficiency. The key again is having the skills to know when and how such entertainment should be indulged. After all, driving should be a fun activity.
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Ted, Former Employee

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Hey CJ-- thanks for reading!

You're totally right that the context the acceleration occurs in is super important. Until we get LIDAR on every car, it's gonna be tricky to figure that out, though :)

We are actually working on detecting and scoring idling behavior as well. Stay tuned for more updates on that!

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Mike Fliss

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I'd LOVE to see this done for many car models, not just the few in the study! These graphs absolutely made a difference in driving for me. For starters, it'd be great to have a tool on the website to look up your car's graph... then maybe integration into the app / reports, then maybe (eventually) integration of your driving habits (as a bar of time spent driving at each mph overlayed with the static, crowd sourced line graph of mph/mpg...? But just for starters, just a dump of graphs or a friendly "pick your car" dropdown would be Awesome. Honda Fit (my car) and Element (brother's car) are my top choices. :)


PS I saw some blog posters are listed as "user researchers" - what's that? I work in Health Informatics and am working on my Epidemiology PhD - very data friendly. If there's any way a casual user can help with any deidentified data, please let me know! I'll crunch my own graphs and send 'em back! :)

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