All 4 entries tagged Driving

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June 30, 2008

Economical driving

I had a lot of miles to do over the weekend (about 650 altogether), and with a tank of petrol costing over £50 these days I thought I’d try and be a little more restrained than usual with the old right foot, and keep the speed down to 65-70mph as much as possible. I’m not actually a speed demon anyway, but do occasionally sneak over 70 when I’m not paying attention to the speedo.

It was tricky at first, but eventually became automatic, and it actually made the journey less tiring. I averaged over 40mpg for the whole journey, which was mostly motorway with about 50 miles of pottering about in town. That’s a bit better than normal, but not by a huge amount. Maybe I’ll try backing off a bit more and see if I can do any better next time.

What was surprising, though, was how many other people seemed to be doing the same thing. In the past, at my more usual 70-75mph I didn’t overtake many other cars. Most were overtaking me. This time, though, even at 65mph I was overtaking a lot. And some of them were the sort of cars you would normally see sat in the outside lane roaring down the road. To see such a large number of Mercs, Beemers, Porches, etc. doing 60-70mph was very strange. There were still a few people belting down the outside lane, but on the whole the traffic was significantly more sedate. I wonder if petrol prices are starting to make everybody think a bit harder about the right foot?

I wasn’t scientific enough about the experiment to know how much I saved, but I would guess at about a fiver for the return trip. Not a lot, but I’d rather have it in my wallet than somebody else’s! Certainly worth doing again…


May 15, 2008

Speeding could be a thing of the past

Writing about web page http://www.silicon.com/publicsector/0,3800010403,39222360,00.htm

My satnav, like most others I guess, has a list of speed cameras and corresponding speed limts, and warns me (a) of the presence of the camera and (b) if I’m exceeding the speed limit. It has occurred to me more than once that this could be extended by having a speed limit associated with every road segment, not just those with cameras on. This would then be able to tell me at any time if I was speeding. The satnav must have something approximating this already, to be able to accurately estimate arrival times.

Anyway, it seems this might come to pass quite soon. Further, they are proposing to link such a system to the vehicles throtle, to automatically slow down a speeding vehicle. That doesn’t sound so good. There are occasions where hitting the throttle is the best and safest way of getting out of a tricky situation, and I wouldn’t want an automated system to get in the way of that.

Any such database would need to be updated relatively frequently to take account of speed limit changes. That smells of a money making scheme to me, like the speed camera databases currently are (I don’t subscribe, so the list in my satnav is out of date).

Thoughts anybody?


March 25, 2008

Finding the shortest route…

As I was driving down the M6 yesterday evening there was an accident that caused a bit of a hold-up. Not knowing how long this was going to take, I hit the “detour” button on the SatNav to see if there was a convenient way around the blockage. Oddly, after finding an alternative route, the SatNav’s ETA was earlier than previously, even though I have it set to plot the quickest route. If the detour was quicker, why wasn’t it sending me that way in the first place?

It turns out this is a variation of the Travelling Salesman Problem, which is hard to solve both accurately and quickly. I guess the SatNav is using an algorithm that gets close to, but not always exactly, the shortest route. To be fair, the difference was only a couple of minutes. I was just surprised, until I thought about it a bit more…


Motorway lane discipline

The highway code rule 264 says:

You should always drive in the left-hand lane when the road ahead is clear. If you are overtaking a number of slower-moving vehicles, you should return to the left-hand lane as soon as you are safely past. Slow-moving or speed-restricted vehicles should always remain in the left-hand lane of the carriageway unless overtaking. You MUST NOT drive on the hard shoulder except in an emergency or if directed to do so by the police, HA traffic officers in uniform or by signs.

I was driving down the M6 yesterday evening. The traffic was dense enough to keep the average speed down below 70mph, but for large parts of the journey the traffic occupied lanes 2 and 3 (or 2, 3 and 4) leaving the left-hand lane empty. Why? What is it about the left-hand lane that makes people not want to use it? Things would flow much better if all of the road was used, instead of just 2/3 of it.


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