How Tarabell got wild, drafted a truck, and got a life.

Discussion in 'The Daily Grind' started by tarabell, May 4, 2006.

  1. tarabell

    tarabell Well-Known Member

    Apologies to any “Opal Mehta” fans. Well ok I didn’t exactly get wild, but for me it was close. For you guys, the thread title is a take from a hugely successful chick book up to the point it was discovered the 18 year old author had heavily plagiarized from at least 2-3 other popular chick books.

    First, you have to remember: I was a very different driver over the last 35 years behind the wheel. I was trained to focus on nothing else but getting where I’m going as fast and safely as possible, and everyone else on the road seemed to be doing something “other” than just driving. Especially in the last few years, with cell phones. One of the rules drilled into my head (I think by my Dad) was always “taking the advantage” while driving. That meant if you’re coming to a stoplight behind one or more cars and the lane next to you is empty, take that lane and be first at the light. If someone in front of you is going slower or seems distracted, you go around them, because they’re likely daydreaming or talking on their cell and their lack of attention is going to cause them to do something really stupid soon.

    So one of the corollary rules drilled into me was—never ever stay behind a truck. The reason was visibility of course. You can’t see around them so you can’t anticipate what’s happening up ahead, so you’re at the mercy of how that truck chooses to drive, and whatever situation is ahead you could potentially avoid. So, if you’re behind a truck, you’re at a disadvantage. My main objective in going fast was actually to get OFF the road asap. Minimize my time on the road exposed to those slow, distracted idiots. So I stayed at 65-70 in the left lane, and was constantly annoyed at people who drove slower than the speed limit. Never had the patience to be stuck in a “pack” of cars” all going the same speed, either. You never know when someone’s going to brake for a paper cup on the road and then everyone else has to touch their brakes in homage. So, stay away from packs of cars—stay out in front, get there faster. Oh and hills? What on earth possesses people to SLOW DOWN when they start going up a hill? Are they afraid of it? Don’t they know it annoys the driver behind them? Do they think they’re in a Flintstone car and their legs will get tired pedaling? They have an engine and a gas pedal for heavens sake! USE IT! What could be so hard about maintaining 65 up this little hill? On and on I would silently (or not) curse at people while driving around them. Of course, gas usage had no bearing whatsoever on the above. Gas is to be burned, right? And if it helps you avoid slow, confused drivers and get somewhere quicker, all the better!

    So here is Tarabell, who has been slowly grinding down her teeth over the last month or two. BOY, hypermiler boot camp was just MADE for people like her… :rolleyes: OMG. I’m supposed to keep a big buffer in front, so I’m letting what seems like every car in L.A. in front of me, and I can’t just step on the gas anymore like I used to love. Even my husband when he rides with me yells stop worrying about the stupid car and go faster, and he used to drive me crazy with his slow driving. I never go 65 anymore, trying to always keep it under 60, trying to DWL which means letting the car slow down as I go up a hill, and oh right, the ideal situation is to sit behind a big fat truck for 20 miles and let that genius dictate my speed. And all the while, I’m supposed to be watching things like —“tall grass” and flags for wind direction…. There is no hell I can contemplate worse than this.

    Flash forward to yesterday.

    I’ve just merged on the freeway and notice a truck on my left going about my speed. He’s biiiig and wiiiiiide. And he’s going slow—maybe 55. I need to get over so I slow down some more and get behind him. I’m just about to go over one more lane when I notice he’s keeping a really even speed. And he hasn’t used his brakes once, even in heavy traffic, which tells me he’s using his gears and gas pedal to control his speed. Not a dummy then. I recall Green&Blue having a similar flash when he dr -- oh no….

    Okay, what the hell.

    I raise my eyes to the sky, mutter “forgive me, Dad” and stay behind the truck. I still have no idea what drafting really means, except I think I’m supposed to follow him as close as I can. But I don’t want to make him nervous or piss him off, and want to be safe so I’m maybe 3 car lengths behind. No one seems to want to get between me and this truck, so they go around us to get to the left lanes. The truck stays in front of me at that nice even keel all the way (about 18 miles) and I watch the trip mileage keep edging up—past 60mpg, 62, 65, 66…68 (holy smokes!). We slow down in concert over a couple short hills, to maybe 45-50mph. Then he keeps going straight but I have to turn off at the interchange.

    No, it wasn’t a record FE day—the trip mileage ended up at 64mpg. But I believe it was a record for driver patience.

    Here Wayne ... you can use my handkerchief.
  2. gonavy

    gonavy Well-Known Member

    lol- esp. the shout out to Wayne.

    I'm a rare drafter, but on those days when the stars align, you throw it all to the wind (or lack of- we're drafting here) and simply grin as the FE number goes up and up and up and up
  3. tbaleno

    tbaleno Well-Known Member

    I don't draft much myself, but I will if there is a good opportunity. Wayne was explaining the differences between a good draft candidate and a poor one on our trip to Madison last weekend. I may be doing some distant drafts on this road trip though.
  4. philmcneal

    philmcneal Has it been 10 years? Wow

    for me its two car lengths and I can see their left mirror. Usually I can see the driver or his facial expression to determine what he is going to do next, although your story about how you were raised to drive bought up a very interesting point. If we can get down to the mentally to why people drive like they do, maybe we would have better ways to convince us that hypermiling is indeed better and the time sacrafaced isn't too bad!
  5. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi Tarabell:

    ___Not only are you a great writer, you are fast becoming a great Hypermiler. In fact, I had to grab the box of tissues while reading your story ;)

    ___There are a few things in your favor when in a close in draft besides just nice FE. One is that you can stop quicker then the 18-wheeler even if he laid into the binders fully. That being said, if he lays in on them hard first, you have a serious lane change to consider all the while laying into those binders yourself. The second is that as of late, the OTR’ers are paying more in fuel then they earn. After a while of filling up for $600 - $750 every 2 states, even the most stubborn are going to realize a competitive advantage can be had vs. their non-informed counterparts as to how slower speeds will boost their own FE and lower there costs. Because of some of those guys overall slower speeds, you may have even less to worry about as to what is in front of them because everything and I mean everything is moving away at a higher speed.

    ___I cannot condone a Close-in given the liability issues but I do Close-in and D-FAS in situations others probably would not given my almost intolerable 65 mph limited Interstate for ~ 30 miles of my daily commute :(

    ___Did I mention that was a great write-up!

    A Close-in as seen on our way up to that Madison Hybrid Group Meet last weekend … It was a poor target given the axle to trailer end spacing and open under-ride guard but a Close-in none the less.

    ___Good Luck

  6. psyshack

    psyshack He who posts articles

    I picked a loaded flatbed semi this morning. Couldnt hang with the rig long as it was wanting to run 75 mph or so. But the time I did manage to hold a close in draft the SG shot up to 65 mpg.

    I really dont like to draft semi's. I cant see around them and that bothers me. And they love to throw things at my car that are in the road that i would otherwise see and not get hit with.

    As a car ages Im more prone to drafting it. Take the Ranger. I dont drive it much now. But when I do on the hwy. I suck it right up into the low pressure zone behind a truck and let the good FE happen.

    I much prefer surfing. Its harder to get a chance to do it for any length of time. I dont think it yeilds as good of FE. But Im more comphy with it and can see.

    Tarabell,,, This is some awsome work you have been doing with you HCHII. I wish you good luck and good fortune in your activities.

  7. johnf514

    johnf514 Zoom? Try Glide!

    I've got to hand it to ya, Tara. Way to be balls out and go against the norm. It's especially hard, as your upbringing promote a more competitive driving style. However, your realizations are producing visible gains, and while you may not be able to see around that truck, you can see more cash in your pocket. ;)

    By the way, I believe I read 2 or 3 other similar posts on different forums. You didn't copy them, did you? :p
  8. tarabell

    tarabell Well-Known Member

    Only the thread title, as I mentioned, was lifted from the book. ;)

    I hope there will be a write-up in the glossary or somewhere that will include more description of the different types of drafting. How close vs how fast, and exactly what makes a good draft candidate. Also would like to know what is surfing.

    I am aware of being much more relaxed in my car now. Or I've just focused all that competitive driving energy onto my mpg gauge. :cool:
  9. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi Tarabell:

    ___The following links and images might help?

    Not to tight Surf Draft

    Drafting Explained. <-- You will need QuickTime installed to view this video.

    ___Here is what a slow speed distant is good for. Why this guy was driving 36 mph down the Interstate I have no idea but it is what it is …


    ___Notice 3 things … This was actually a distant draft given the speeds we were traveling, the iFCD was pegged at the stops, and we were climbing a slight incline. This guy pulled me up from 101.0 to 102.6 in low 50 degree temps after ~ 60 miles while never exceeding 50 mph just 2 days ago barring the 1.5 mile stop and crawl into a toll booth on I-90 just south of Chicago.

    ___Lastly, what makes a good target tractor trailer rig is axles near the end of the trailer, a rig traveling at slower speeds, a low slung trailer similar to what the home movers or car haulers drive, and either a very bulky axle truck, multiple mud flaps, or a solid underride guard. UPS trucks are about the best of the bunch given the slower speeds and solid and lower underrides as the trailer is built that way.

    ___Just be careful out there, OK! This can be a very dangerous game and FE is not that important!

    ___Good Luck

    Last edited: May 16, 2006
  10. phoebeisis

    phoebeisis Well-Known Member

    I don't draft-too chicken- but when I'm on an unlimited access hy-287 Tx for example- I will find a truck that is going my speed, and then drop back 50-75 yards or so and let them pull me thru the night. I can "see" every twist and turn in the road-every slowdown-and I can use his headlights to 'see' waaay down the road. I can see potential trouble areas-cross roads and spots where other cars can pull on. If it is raining you have to drop back much farther to get out of the spray cone, but it still gives you a good idea of the road ahead. The truckers have usually driven the road before(so have I), but the chances are they are more familiar with it.Luck,Charlie
  11. tigerhonaker

    tigerhonaker Platinum Contributor


    Just a few words here. (You-Go-Get-Um) :D
  12. Chuck

    Chuck just the messenger

    Wayne - You're Picture is Better

    I took a picture on the way to Colorado similar to this, but it is not as sharp or as effective.

    The title is "Assist" :D


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