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Eco-driving training at MassDOT Highway District 2, Northampton,  July 2015

Eco-driving training at MassDOT Highway District 2, Northampton, July 2015

MassDOT’s efforts to reduce our carbon footprint and save energy costs have taken another step forward.

In late July, 65 MassDOT employees took an eco-driving training course through four small-group sessions in Boston, Northampton and Taunton. David Kestenbaum, Director of Certification for Sustainable Transportation at the University of Vermont, introduced proven eco-driving techniques and explained the science behind them.

The after-training survey indicates the participants walked away with enhanced knowledge of eco-driving, and they all pledged to utilize the techniques introduced during the course when operating a vehicle.

Most eco-driving techniques are common sense but a driver must consciously integrate them into daily practice.
• Accelerate and break gradually: Aggressive speeding, accelerating, and breaking can lower your fuel economy by 33% at highway speeds and by 5% around town.
• Coast: You can save fuel by coasting to a stop rather than aggressively applying the brakes.
• Anticipating stops: It takes approximately 20% less energy to accelerate from 5 mph than from a full stop; you can save fuel by avoiding full stops if you are not required by law to perform them.

 

Eco-driving certificates are mailed to the participants once they have pledged to adopt eco-driving.

Eco-driving certificates are mailed to the participants once they have pledged to adopt eco-driving.

The 65 eco-driving trainees are among 133 MassDOT employees voluntarily participating in MassDOT’s research project “Mitigation Techniques to Modify Driver Performance to Improve Fuel Efficiency, Reduce Emissions and Improve Safety”. These employees have been driving light duty vehicles equipped with GreenRoad in-vehicle feedback devices since May. The devices collect real-time vehicle fuel consumption and driving performance data and then send them back to the company’s data center for trend display and analysis.

The first phase of data collection was to establish a baseline. The devices collected information without providing direct feedback to the drivers. Completion of the eco-driving training course has kicked off the second phase of data collection. Starting in August, half of the 130 devices have been activated to provide instantaneous feedback to a subgroup of the drivers, with the expectation that these drivers will modify their driving habits as a response to alert lights.

The GreenRoad fleet performance dashboard provides a visual fleet management tool for real-time driving performance as well as historical comparison.

The GreenRoad fleet performance dashboard provides a visual fleet management tool for real-time driving performance as well as historical comparison.

With the data collected by these devices over a 7-month period, the research team will examine the individual and combined impacts of these feedback devices and the eco-driving training on the participants’ driving style and vehicle fuel consumption. Funded by federal highway research money and implemented by UMass Amherst, the overall goal of this project is to identify and test techniques to modify driver behavior to improve fuel efficiency, reduce emissions and improve safety.

The project helps MassDOT achieve goals associated with operational safety, energy savings and emission reduction outlined in the GreenDOT Implementation Plan. The study will assist in department decisions in preventative maintenance and fleet management programs and will use the empirical evidence gathered to identify recommendations for MassDOT and other state agencies.

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