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Transportation Energy and System Efficiency

Energy efficiency — defined as providing the same or better quality of service with less energy use — is a core value in society. To understand energy efficiency in the transportation sector, the TRC takes an expansive view that encompasses vehicle and individual travel behavior, the limitations of land use patterns on access, as well as the construction, maintenance, and operation of the transportation system. Several research projects are underway

Featured Project
Driver Efficiency Project

Research suggests that vehicle drivers respond to higher gas prices by combining and reducing automobile trips when possible and by driving more efficiently. Driving style and vehicle operation could therefore be effective targets for policies and educational efforts to improve transportation efficiency.

The TRC Driver Efficiency Project is testing the impact of continuous miles per gallon (MPG) feedback on driving behavior and fuel efficiency in gas-powered cars. In the 3-month trial, 60 volunteers who commuted more than 20 minutes each way to work had a small computer device mounted in their cars that monitored MPG over daily driving intervals. The devices displayed continuous MPG feedback in one phase of the study, and were masked in others; participants and controls also received a brief tip sheet on fuel-efficient driving behaviors.

Current Projects