Whilst GOFAR is a handy little OBDII data logger for your car, its main purpose is improving driver behaviour. We want car commuters and daily drivers to driver safer and greener and save money on fuel whilst doing so!
An urban driving trial
We mapped out a 1.3km track around Sydney. It’s pretty typical of urban driving – a few lights, a few stretches and a bit of traffic.
We recruited 16 drivers all to drive around this same track, in the same car, on the same day. First we had each driver drive the track as they normally would, and then we plugged in GOFAR’s Ray to give them real time feedback on their driving. If you want to change driving behaviour for the better, it follows that feedback when drivers are driving is more powerful than a backward looking dashboard (that they may never log into anyway!).
It’s just one trial with controlled inputs but the results are interesting and presented below.
Impact on fuel: Fuel used cut by 15.7%
Of the 16 drivers, 14 of them used less fuel with GOFAR (you can’t win every time). The average saving over the entire group was 15.7%. Not bad.
The worst driver increased their fuel use by 4%. The best driver reduced fuel use by 28%. Impressive.
Impact on driving style: less aggression
We saw that drivers adjusted their driving style when they received feedback from GOFAR’s Ray. Ray is blue when you are driving efficiently and slowly turns red as your driving style deteriorates. This immediate visual feedback gave drivers consistent, objective feedback on how they were performing and we were encouraged to see that high g-force events, like harsh braking or excessive acceleration dropped significantly.
We also saw that the bias towards acceleration was reduced (it was 53% of all recorded g force events on drivers’ first runs and that dropped to 51% on the second run with GOFAR).
Don’t be gentle. It’s a rental.
Encouragingly we saw that drivers reduced Revs and adopted a less aggresive throttle position too.
- There was an 8% reduction in average RPM from 1256 to 1159. Peak revs dropped too as drivers were less lead-footed!
- There was a 5% reduction in average throttle position too.
- Coasting increased too with minimum throttle rising from 58% of data records to 63% – indicating drivers did not feel the need to be on the accelerator quite so much.
Amazingly speed was higher
Drivers were surprised to find out that although they had driven LESS aggressively and peak speeds were lower, the average journey time was actually slightly improved. This is because the drivers were anticipating better and coasting more.
When you accelerate ahead of a slower moving car and then come to a rest at the traffic lights, you’ll often find that that slower moving car then overtakes you because its easier to pick up speed from a rolling start than a standing start.
In a nutshell, the drivers spent less time at 0 kph, sitting at lights and waiting behind traffic and this reduced journey times by 6% on average across the sample.
Below you can see the % of time that drivers spent in each speed band, confirming there was less time at 0kph and less time at higher speeds but more time at a steady speed of 21-30kph.
Thoughts on future driving behaviour tests
One idea for a future test is to give some drivers GOFAR first and then have their second drive without GOFAR. Another possibility is to do multiple drives with and without GOFAR (but we did not want to impose too much on our test subjects).
Do you have any suggestions for future tests?
This study with GOFAR confirmed what eco-drivers have long known, which is that in urban settings your speed is almost entirely determined by traffic lights and other traffic. No matter how fast you’d like to go it’s hard to beat the traffic – as you ARE traffic too!
Given that 80% of driving occurs in an urban environment there is a lot to be said for the more anticipatory, smoother style promoted by GOFAR in this test. It cuts costs and dangerous extreme driving and did not add to journey time.