CONTACTTRAFFICABOUT TOM VANDERBILTOTHER WRITING CONTACT ABOUT THE BOOK

Driving Barefoot

There’s an interesting Q&A in New Scientist with hypermiler Jack Martin that hints at some of the reasons why, as studies have suggested, people who drive with fuel economy in mind are less likely to be involved in a crash.

How does the way you drive differ from how everyone else drives?

I have difficulty multitasking while driving. I can’t talk on the phone while driving. It’s about awareness and “hyperconsciousness”, which takes a lot of practice. You have to look far down the road and be aware of everything going on in front and around you. I first learned that while driving the bus. My eyes were constantly moving to the mirrors, the speed dial, the road, to anticipate conditions and stop in time.

That was well in line with what I’ve read before. But then I was struck by this odd detail:

“Most hypermilers also like to drive barefoot to feel the resistance on the accelerator. The connection between that resistance and the numbers on the scan gauge tells you what behaviours improve your mileage. By following my techniques, a friend improved her mpg by 70 per cent.”

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This entry was posted on Monday, November 3rd, 2008 at 3:50 pm and is filed under Cars, Drivers, Energy. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

9 Responses to “Driving Barefoot”

  1. Steven Levy Says:

    I hate to think of emergency braking barefoot — especially since some hypermilers think nothing of drafting a big truck by extreme tailgating.

  2. Vagabondblogger Says:

    My son likes to drive barefoot, and has driven cross country (literally, from Portland to Portland), not necessarily all barefooted. I had always been taught that you shouldn’t do so (and I’ve lectured him on this, to no avail.) You could get a small pebble / stone under your foot, then what…?

  3. Stephanie Says:

    I generally drive barefoot all summer. It’s legal in my state, and it is so much safer than driving with sandals that can slip off when you move your foot. I really can’t comprehend how people drive wearing heels as it’s not easy to get the right pressure on the pedals. I tend to drive faster if am wearing heels, so I generally just take them off if I’m going home as I don’t need to worry about my nylons running.

    as for the statement above about pebbles and stones, I’ve never had a problem with them. It’s so much more comfortable and I feel much more in control of the pedals.

  4. sven Says:

    What is wrong with barefoot driving? I have sometimes (although rarely) done so – it feels fine…

  5. D42 Says:

    Thanks Tom, lovely again :}

  6. sasha Says:

    Back in september a group called Wisebread [www.wisebread.com] published 108 Ways To Raise Fuel Economy, one of which was driving barefoot.

    It may put you more intune with your car but regardless sometimes it feels good just to take your shoes off for a bit!

  7. Andrew Says:

    If you do not want to drive barefoot you could try the advice I found in How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive by John Muir: Drive as if you have an egg between your foot and the gas pedal.

  8. TomL Says:

    I slip off my shoes off and drive with only socks, primarily to get a better feel of the clutch engaging the transmission (I have a BMW 323i.) I can also feel the accelerator better wearing only socks, so it’s easy to keep a light foot on the throttle. I can easily get 35 mpg at 60-62 mpg on the highway (EPA rated at 29 mpg/highway), and about 39 mpg when I use cruise control. One more thing: the car has 107K miles on it.

  9. Alasdair Says:

    I always drive barefoot in my truck all over Europe and have never had any problems

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Traffic Tom Vanderbilt

How We Drive is the companion blog to Tom Vanderbilt’s New York Times bestselling book, Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us), published by Alfred A. Knopf in the U.S. and Canada, Penguin in the U.K, and in languages other than English by a number of other fine publishers worldwide.

Please send tips, news, research papers, links, photos (bad road signs, outrageous bumper stickers, spectacularly awful acts of driving or parking or anything traffic-related), or ideas for my Slate.com Transport column to me at: info@howwedrive.com.

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