Author Topic: Does tailing 18 wheelers actually work as drafting and save gas?  (Read 16440 times)

Offline ilyafish

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Does tailing 18 wheelers actually work as drafting and save gas?
« on: February 09, 2009, 09:47:18 AM »
I would assume that if you get close enough where your bus doesnt have to cut through the air, it would save gas.  I try to do it as much as i can, you gotta get pretty close but the truckers dont seem to mind.  But i was just wondering if it actually works to save gas.
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Offline belfert

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Re: Does tailing 18 wheelers actually work as drafting and save gas?
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2009, 10:20:04 AM »
Mythbusters tested this one a while back and it did save gas, but they also said it was stupid to do in real life.
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Offline Brian Diehl

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Re: Does tailing 18 wheelers actually work as drafting and save gas?
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2009, 10:24:29 AM »
too close ... not enough reaction time ... no ability to see ahead and prepare for emergency lane changes ... etc

Offline RJ

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Re: Does tailing 18 wheelers actually work as drafting and save gas?
« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2009, 10:33:47 AM »


The simple answer:  Yes, by drafting you can save some fuel.

The intelligent answer:

By drafting, you eliminate any reaction time to problems, because you're forward vision is severely hampered by the 18-wheeler's big box trailer.  And since you're driving a bus, that also means that YOU are going to be the very first person upon the accident scene.  Not a pretty sight just to save 1/2 mpg of fuel.

FYI, at 60 mph, you're covering 88 feet PER SECOND!  That means, if you're drafting a 53-foot 18-wheeler's trailer at 60 mph, if he stops suddenly, before you even react to his sudden stop, you're already halfway thru his trailer.

Because of the weight and stopping distances required by a coach, you should ALWAYS try to maintain a 1 second per 10 mph following distance from the vehicle in front of you.  Notice I didn't say one car-length per 10 mph, I said one second per 10 mph.  That means a six second gap in front of you at 60 mph.  If you try to maintain that space cushion in front of your coach, you'll never end up being the first one at the accident scene.

FWIW & HTH. . .

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Offline gyrocrasher

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Re: Does tailing 18 wheelers actually work as drafting and save gas?
« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2009, 10:34:22 AM »
  I try to do it as much as i can, you gotta get pretty close but the truckers dont seem to mind.


I assure you, at least some of us mind it very much. I find it rude and dangerous. :( Mitch

Offline busshawg

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Re: Does tailing 18 wheelers actually work as drafting and save gas?
« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2009, 10:39:24 AM »
I spent quite a few years driving 18 wheelers and that was a pet peave of mine. The last thing I wanted to do was spend a day doing paperwork over a tailgater that couldn't stop on time. If they wouldn't  grab the suddle hints I would use the gravel shoulder to help them figure it out.
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Offline TomC

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Re: Does tailing 18 wheelers actually work as drafting and save gas?
« Reply #6 on: February 09, 2009, 10:58:56 AM »
When I was driving my truck cross country, I also had the same opinion as busshawg.  If someone was tailgating, I just started slowing down till they passed-sometimes down to 20mph!  Good Luck, TomC
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Offline zubzub

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Re: Does tailing 18 wheelers actually work as drafting and save gas?
« Reply #7 on: February 09, 2009, 11:02:10 AM »
If you do it right the trucker doesn't even know you are there ;D

Offline JackConrad

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Re: Does tailing 18 wheelers actually work as drafting and save gas?
« Reply #8 on: February 09, 2009, 11:20:36 AM »
The Mythbuster segment on this showed you could save fuel, but you had to be within about 10-12 feet of the back of the semi. At that distance, you are totally blind to what is going on in front of the semi. Anyone who does this should be arrested for attempted suicide.  Jack
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Offline ilyafish

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Re: Does tailing 18 wheelers actually work as drafting and save gas?
« Reply #9 on: February 09, 2009, 11:34:30 AM »
got it...the cons outweigh the 'pros' which arent even drastic enough to be considered 'pros'

especially with todays gas prices, 1/2 mpg more isnt that worth it.

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Offline gyrocrasher

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Re: Does tailing 18 wheelers actually work as drafting and save gas?
« Reply #10 on: February 09, 2009, 11:40:22 AM »
Not to be argumentative, Jack, as you know I agree with your opinion on tailgating, but IIRC, fuel savings started showing at 2-300 feet? (still WAY too close) The savings went up dramatically as the distance decreased.

One might also note the segment in the same episode showing the damage caused by a blown trailer tire from the lead truck.
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Offline NJT 5573

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Re: Does tailing 18 wheelers actually work as drafting and save gas?
« Reply #11 on: February 09, 2009, 11:54:34 AM »
I have used a truck to keep me on the road once comming home from Daytona in my old Eagle. We had just entered California and were around Blithe. The wind was blowing everyone over except the loaded trucks. I talked to a truck on the CB and he said "Lets Go". I sucked right in behind him and hung half way out on my drivers side so I could see in front of me and the truck and we rode like that all the way to Palm Springs. Offered him a sandwich and a coke.

Trucks follow other trucks. Its called riding in the rocking chair. I usually wait for a speeder to run the front door and follow behind so he gets the ticket. When he turns off I wait for another one and then off we go. I always follow a trucks tail lights in heavy fog. I have spent my life trucking and you can follow me or even push me if you want, I really don't care, my responsibility mostly stops at my front bumper.

I'm going to LA Thursday for a couple weeks, I can take my coach air/heat belt off and get half a MPG more. Based on 2800 round trip miles I can gain about 40 gallons of fuel. Might as well leave it on for a lousy hundred bucks.... The gain in mileage for tailgating would be alot less than $100 and the risk would not be worth the gain.
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Offline lostagain

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Re: Does tailing 18 wheelers actually work as drafting and save gas?
« Reply #12 on: February 09, 2009, 12:06:14 PM »
When I used to drive professionally, the company policy was 4 seconds following distance. I still practice that today driving my bus or the hockey team's bus. I don't like tailgaters either. Some transport trucks do it to me even with the hockey bus, and I generally go the speed limit or 10% over. They would like to get by, but I ignore them.

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Offline JackConrad

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Re: Does tailing 18 wheelers actually work as drafting and save gas?
« Reply #13 on: February 09, 2009, 12:06:53 PM »
Not to be argumentative, Jack, as you know I agree with your opinion on tailgating, but IIRC, fuel savings started showing at 2-300 feet? (still WAY too close) The savings went up dramatically as the distance decreased.

One might also note the segment in the same episode showing the damage caused by a blown trailer tire from the lead truck.
Mitch

I guess I should have said MAXIMUM fuel savings required the very close following distance.  Jack
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Offline gus

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Re: Does tailing 18 wheelers actually work as drafting and save gas?
« Reply #14 on: February 09, 2009, 12:35:01 PM »
Yes, it works fine. Racing cars do it all the time.

However; (there's always a "however"), the extra cost of rebuilding the front of the bus, towing charges, your medical bills, paying "following too closely" fines and increased insurance bill probably will cost more than the fuel saving!!

I've seen numerous truckers do this, I considered it idiotic when I was driving truck. For some reason trucks of the same company seemed to do it more than others.

When someone did it to me I did just like TomC. I even do it in my car, I once got a guy down to 15 mph before he woke up and blasted on by me giving me a strange look! There is no doubt that some people latch onto a vehicle's rear and drift off into mental never-never land.
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