This project focuses on fuel efficiency and educating the public to promote behavioral changes. We seek to provide quantitative answers to the following questions:
• How are specific driving behaviors linked to gasoline consumption?
• What is the impact on driving behavior (thus, gasoline consumption) when a driver is provided with real time gasoline efficiency information and other driving behavior derived metrics?
• What optimal set of information can be provided to drivers to best promote environmentally friendly driving behaviors?
Our research examines psychological/behavioral strategies, which target/enhance individual psychological awareness to encourage voluntary travel behavior changes. Several research and educational programs aim to modify commuter behavior through providing education and various forms of information. Typical programs include: Australia's TravelSmart and TravelBlending initiatives, Taniguchi's (Japan) Travel Feedback Program (TFP), Denver's Driving Change project.
These programs range from automated web-based system to labor intensive customized survey/feedback, from purely informational to active intervention, from passive periodic feedback to continuously interactive learning, from qualitative to quantitative, and from paper survey to instrumentation recording. Our research seeks to quantitatively measure driving behavior in the presence/absence of real time instantaneous fuel usage rate information, which we believe provides the most non-intrusive and effective means to modify/train driving habit enabling substantial savings in fuel usage. We plan to use onboard instrumentation to measure various vehicle operating characteristics with the fuel usage (MPG) information display being turned on or off. Together with GPS deduced route contour mapping (straight line or curve driving), we will create and calculate driving aggressiveness (amongst others) indices to quantitatively correlate driving habits vs. driving efficiency.
We seek to test the hypothesis that instantaneous fuel usage feedback produces immediate fuel savings in a self-learning, private environment. This method requires minimum effort or sacrifice on the part of the individual, while other coordinated efforts (e.g., CAFE, alternative fuels and technology) slowly roll out.