Should Minn. drivers be required to learn 'EcoDriving' skills?

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Photo by Matti Mattila
Most of us should know from common sense how we can save gas while out driving our cars. Staying at a constant speed, obeying speed limits on highways, and keeping the car in good shape. But should new Minnesota drivers be required to learn these skills in driver's ed?

Two Minnesota lawmakers think so. They have proposed legislation that would add "EcoDriving" training to driver's education courses. The bill would require "driving style and specific techniques that maximize motor vehicle fuel economy."

Rep. Frank Hornstein and Sen. Scott Dibble, both DFLers from Minneapolis, proposed the legislation. They say more effective driving techniques could save drivers 15 percent on their fuel costs.

Some legislators aren't so pumped by the bill. From the Pioneer Press:
But House Transportation Committee Chairman Bernie Lieder, DFL-Crookston, had his doubts.

"The Legislature is always accused of getting too deep in personal decisions," he said. "I think this is coming close to that comment."

With a lot of proposals vying for attention, Lieder said, the sponsors may not even ask for a hearing on the idea, though Dibble said it would "absolutely" go to the committee. Instead, Lieder said, they might achieve their purpose not by passing legislation but by raising driver awareness.
Here are some of the tips to help reduce fuel consumption in your own car:
  • Stay at a constant speed, and stop as infrequently as possible.
  • Don't idle in the parking lot, drive-through or car wash. Instead, turn off the car.
  • If you have to idle (i.e., at a stoplight), do it in neutral.
  • Drive at 55 mph on highways.
  • Relax -- avoid aggressive driving and weaving in and out of traffic.
  • Maintain the car. That means regularly tuning the engine, changing oil and filters, and properly inflating tires.
  • Use air conditioning minimally, and close the windows at higher speeds.
  • Travel light.

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