by Stuart Livesey
Back in the late 1960s Sydney was hit with a number of strikes by petrol tanker drivers. For long periods of time – often well over a week – the tanker drivers would go out on strike for high pay. The result of course that petrol stations all over the city eventually ran dry.
To try and conserve fuel supplies the Government introduced a range of measures. These included odds and evens based on the last number in your number plate and governed which days you could by petrol and limiting the maximum amount of fuel you could buy at any one time.
At the same time the papers, television stations and radio stations were handing out plenty of tips on how to get the best possible fuel consumption.
Back in those days I had a Mini and one of the things that I did to conserve fuel – and a lot of other Mini drivers would do too – was to start in third with a quick change up to fourth. It wasn’t ideal but it certainly extended my range beyond anything the guys in 6 cylinder cars were achieving.
But no matter what did to conserve fuel we never quite got to the stage that some Americans have reached. Over there the relatively high cost of fuel has brought out a group known as hypermilers – extreme drivers at the other end of the scale we normally associate with the word ‘extreme’.
These guys will shift into neutral, switch the engine off and coast if they see a red light ahead. They’ll avoid streets with traffic lights and they’ll be what’s known as ‘ridge riders’ – drivers who stick as close as possible to the white line so they don’t drive in the slight ruts in the road caused by all the other traffic.
If they’re that desperate to save on fuel consumption maybe they should just catch a bus?