“People who love their cars, who are concerned about the environment, and who like challenges will be into this,” said Scott Osberg, Founder of Green Driving Challenge.
Recently, I volunteered as a test driver for Green Driving Challenge and had a lot of fun. Green Driving Challenge tracks fuel economy via an app and an OBD-II scanner. Osberg, with two decades in traffic safety and injury prevention under his belt, has combined his experience with a passion for the environment.
Green Driving Challenge encourages more conscious driving, translating to increased safety and fuel efficiency.
“There is a link between eco-driving and safety,” Osberg said. “We thought about ways we could use people’s concern about the environment to get them to drive safely.”
Man vs. Machine
Green Driving Challenge encourages drivers to compete against the EPA ratings on their vehicle. For example, my 2015 Ford Fusion is rated at 22 (city) and 33 (highway) with 26 combined. According to data from my Green Driving Challenge app, I am 3 to 5 miles per gallon better at the end of my trips on average. It further cements the notion that how you drive is directly proportional to fuel efficiency.
“With fuel economy, so much is about the vehicle but so little is about the driver,” Osberg said. “You can save 5 to 25 percent on your emissions and still drive just as far.”
My fuel economy increase and subsequent safety increase came as a result of me being mindful of my acceleration, braking, and steering.
“It’s really small changes that result in a much more relaxed driving style with a huge impact on the environment in the long run,” Osberg said.
As part of the test driver program for Green Driving Challenge, I paired an OBD-II scanner to an app on my Android phone. For Easter weekend, I took a 94 mile trip across Michigan’s Interstate 94 to see Danielle’s family. It’s not a distracting app either – there is only one button that either starts or stops it from recording your driving.
Here is my summary coming home from Easter weekend:
Vehicle: 2015 Ford Fusion Titanium 2.0 EcoBoost Ti-VCT
From: Concord, Michigan
To: Detroit, Michigan
Distance: 94.64 miles
Time: 2 hours, 34 minutes
City MPG: 27.1 – up 23.3 percent from the EPA ratings
Highway MPG: 37.5 – up 13.7 percent from the EPA ratings
Percentage of Green Miles: 69.5
I had 7.15 city miles (7.6 percent of my trip) and 87.50 highway miles (92.4 percent of my trip). My average speed was 60.6 mph, with my max speed being 78.8 mph. I spent 0.5 percent of my time idling, saving 0.4 gallons of fuel and averting 7.4 pounds of CO2.
By contrast, I had a pretty dismal drive from Jackson Coffee Company to the Meijer store in nearby Jackson, Michigan. Danielle and I had gone for a late afternoon latte then picked up a few items for Easter dinner. For that entire ride, I was down 7.7 percent in city mileage when compared to the EPA ratings for my car. It got me thinking about how I could improve my driving on those everyday, typical drives – like to the grocery store and back.
As of March 1st, 2016, Green Driving Challenge has compiled over 32,000 miles of data from eight drivers who have collectively averted 1.7 tons of CO2 and saved $452.
Easy & Engaging
Everything was transferred automatically from the app to the Green Driving Challenge website once I connected to Wi-Fi. I can log in and see data like this each time I’m in my car, comparing and contrasting my actual driving to the window sticker ratings. Driving is much more enjoyable now because I am actively trying to better my numbers by being more proactive behind the wheel.
“There is nothing like Green Driving Challenge because it is so focused on the environment,” Osberg said. “We think of it like a Fitbit, except only for your vehicle.”
Green Driving Challenge is in the middle of a Kickstarter campaign and actively looking for test drivers and potential partners. I see any number of possibilities for partnerships myself: automakers, insurance companies, technology companies, environmental advocacy groups – the list goes on. On a personal note, I found Osberg to be both friendly and dedicated, something I always value highly in the automotive world.
“We are a small operation that’s self funded but we want to look for partners,” Osberg said.
Small as it may be, Green Driving Challenge has huge potential. For one, it’s fun and being a car guy, I loved the real- time data on my driving. In some areas, I was pleasantly surprised by my fuel economy while in other areas, I see how I could stand to improve. Second and probably most important is the ability for Green Driving Challenge to help advocate major change.
“We are going to get some data that pushes the debate into more realistic protocols about what people are actually getting on the road driving,” Osberg said. “I think that can help us move the debate forward in Washington and get real changes that can make a big difference for the environment.”
To get involved as a test driver or potential partner, visit the Green Driving Challenge website. In the meantime, you can meet Scott Osberg in the video below.
*Carl Anthony is Managing Editor of Automoblog and resides in Detroit, Michigan.