Save Our Teen Drivers

Advocating for driver's education changes. Educating the public on the problem. Finding a solution that saves lives.

Teen driver killed while trying to save gas

Posted by lapearce on August 24, 2009

Tailgating semi trucks is a popular hypermiling technique. One false move and you will crash. Is it worth it?

Most hypermilers know that drafting is dangerous. One false move and you will crash. Is it worth it?

Hypermiling: the act of taking extreme measures to save gas. Some of the more extreme measures of this practice are very dangerous, such as “drafting” behind semi trucks, driving 20mph under the speed limit on the highway, or turning the car off while going down hill. All as an attempt to save a couple miles per gallon on the tank of gas.

These practices are dangerous, and for one young man in Australia  hypermiling cost him his life.

The teen turned the car off and took the keys out of the ignition before going through a bend. He had only had his license for a month and didn’t know that when the car is off the ignition is locked. Unable to steer, his car plowed into a semi truck, killing himself and taking off half the face of a passenger. Two other passengers were also injured in this crash.

Coroner Rod Chandler said, “I am satisfied that it occurred in this instance not because the deceased was being foolhardy or irresponsible but rather because of his ignorance of its effect upon his capacity to manage the vehicle.”

There is much more than needs to go into driver’s education than simply how to drive. How many parents think to discuss practical ways to increase fuel economy or what happens when the key is removed from the car with their teens? Hypermiling exists and teens may be influenced by the promise of astronomical high gas mileage, but at what price? Dangerous driving is dangerous driving no matter what your motive. Driving too close to trucks, much slower than traffic, over inflating your tires and turning off the car while it is moving exponentially increase your chance for a crash. If no one is hurt the irony is that the cost of your insurance deductible is probably more than the amount of gas you’d save in a year. If someone is killed because of it, then no amount of fuel saved makes it worth while.

Here are some tips on how to hypermile safely for the best mix of fuel economy and safe driving. Many of these tips (ie slower acceleration and getting ready to stop sooner) are safer too than getting on the gas or braking late, which reduces your ability to move out of the way or stop in an emergency.

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3 Responses to “Teen driver killed while trying to save gas”

  1. DavidBascin said

    I dunno. I started hypermiling 1 year ago and the rules did not mention drafting big trucks and such. The people at http://www.cleanmpg.com said it is very bad and real hypermilers dont do it. still I am a safer and wiser driver now that I hypermile and save mucho money too. 🙂

    • lapearce said

      Most hypermiling sites now days do not endorse drafting. However, when the practice first became mainstream around 2007 drafting was one of its main components so much so that Mythbusters actually did a piece on if you save fuel from drafting trucks.

      It’s a good thing that most sites don’t condone it any more, but it doesn’t mean that people still don’t do it. As an example in the case of this young driver, there is a disconnect between what people approve and what people do. A lot of people who do not know better draft trucks for fuel economy, or turn off the engine like this young man did.

  2. This is frightening stuff. Drivers should be more aware of how the vehicle works and what influence they have whilst driving a vehicle.

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