Step on It: A New Approach to Improving Vehicle Fuel Economy

Abstract

We show that there is substantial variation in the fuel economy achieved on the road by drivers in identical vehicles and that the time costs of driving more efficiently make it unlikely that increasing gasoline taxes would substantially affect fuel consumption along this dimension. Then, using the variation in travel conditions across routes taken by the same driver repeatedly, we show that investments in technologies that smooth traffic flows by reducing stops per mile and idle time per stop have the potential reduce fuel consumption and travel times in a way that gasoline taxes alone cannot.