Ever since gas went from 3.23 to 3.56 I have been drafting every chance I get. This incedent happened to me last week. I was on a long run on the 95 and I was jumping from the back of one truck to another. I kept about 2 car lengths or 50 feet back and I found a truck doing 60 to 65, my onboard mpg computer went from 25.8 to 27 mpg and I was nestled in for a long cruise. Just then the truck started speeding up, he was the only 18 wheeler out there so I changed lanes and stayed with him. He settled down to a 65 mph cruise and then started doing lane changes again, this time he speed up to 80 and I back off, but he slowed down and I pulled in behind him. Now he locked up his trailer brakes for a second and smoked me. At the same time another truck pulled up along side of me and was waving blowing his horn. Now the truck I was following pulled off, so I kept going.
As far as I can tell the trucker freaked out, I guess he thought I was following him. Maybe he had child support, or some issue with the law, or maybe he never heard of drafting for mpg, I don't know.
I have an old C.B. in the basement, I may have a hand held, but having been a commercial driver for a number of years I know the C.B. is a truckers best friend. All the years of driving I'v done, I can't tell you how many times I used a C.B. to communicate. With the fuel prices going higher, drafting a truck is an easy way to scoop up extra MPG. This is the first time I ever had a trucker do this, if I had a C.B. I may have been able to explain drafting to him.
From the years of cross country driving I used to do, I have only had 2 or 3 incedents with other truckers. 99.9% of truckers are great guys and gals. From all the truck stops and weight stations I'v been to, all the truckers are helpful, warm hearted, and ready to teach you all sorts of things. In convoys, they work together avoiding traffic, getting around weather, and letting you know where all the radar stops are. Believe it or not, unless you have a class A or B, they are a better driver than you, every 2 years they have to retest to stay compliant to keep their license and their job. Look up on line the requirements for a commercial class A or B, or take a class. So if your going to draft, get a C.B.
I agree 100% on this for any extended highway driving. Just letting them know you are there and what you are doing is like saying hello to a passerby on the street. It humanizes you and greatly diminishes the 'what's this creep up to?' vibe.
If they tell you to back off, do it! The last thing you need is another trucker 'accidentally' running you into the guard rail.
I've used truckers as my portable deer battering ram while travelling before. Tucked in close at 75-80, they knew I was there and why. A friendly trucker might even do you the favor of calling out the 'gators' in the road as a warning.
The truckers were giving you a hard time because you were following too close--not because you were following them. Read this thread. If you can't be bothered to read the whole thread, search for the term "Draft" throughout the thread and read the relevant parts. Or just read this
Originally Posted by Scott
my onboard mpg computer went from 25.8 to 27 mpg and I was nestled in for a long cruise.
You'd be doing just as well or better drafting at around 125 feet than 50 feet, and you wouldn't be getting the truckers on your case. Read that thread I linked to.
Keeping a steady speed helps just as much as drafting can. My wife freaks out if I get near a tractor/trailer, so I'll pick one out seems to be running at that 67mph ideal speed for her car and follow it at 2 seconds (which at 67mph is more like 200 feet) and if there's turbulence I'll creep up until there is none. Usually between 140-160 feet seems to be a good compromise between "feeling the pull" and "feeling the buffeting". I have no way of telling whether it truly improves mileage, but I feel like I'm pulled towards the truck at those distances.
When you get that close in behind a rig you are in their blindspot, they can't see you so if they know your back there of course their nervous about you tailgating them and not being able to see you. I've been using the CB in my truck to ask permission to draft, never had a trucker say no.... I always tell them the distance Im planning on following.
I heard somewhere that if you draft a truck, they waste more fuel while you save more fuel. thats probably why the trucker was pissed off.
I heard that too - but don't think it is actually correct. Mainly because all you are doing, by drafting them, is pushing the 'drag zone' forwards, towards them with your car. This means it will be dragging less on them. If you took a square european style lorry, and drove it right behind their rig, what would happen is they would have no drag behind them. If you had a convoy, the truck at the front takes the frontal drag, all the trucks take roof / sides / undercarriage drag, and the truck at the back takes the rear drag. In the UK, I would always see truckers doing close-in drafts, and they would swap around from time to time (very close in e.g. 0.5 seconds or less!)
A more extreme example... If someone was driving in a car, and I took a truck with a 8x8 metre metal plate welded on front, then drove that truck right behind the car, but not touching it, I'm sure the car would feel a lot less drag!
P.S. At night-time, particularly, truckers won't be able to see what your car is so may think it is a police car...
__________________ Team GasMisers5 - #1 for first three rounds of the original GS Fuel Economy Challenge
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