September 29, 2002
Seen On The New York Thruway . . .

. . . a guy in an old Oldsmobile tailgating a tractor trailer. There was no one in either lane for half a mile in front or back, but this guy drove six or eight feet behind the truck's rear bumper for miles. They were going the speed limit (65 MPH). At first I thought he was being towed. It appears that some drivers are like baby elephants, which don't seem to feel comfortable travelling anywhere unless they can firmly grasp the tail of the elephant in front with their trunks.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at September 29, 2002 08:44 PM

Called slipstreaming dude... Saves a fortune in gas on long trips:

"Slipstreaming is an essential skill - easy to understand but difficult to perfect. The principle is the same across virtually all forms of racing, whether it's track bikes, carts, touring cars, formula 1, etc: You drive as close behind the vehicle in front as possible without contact.

The driver in front has to shift all the air out of the way and power the car forwards, while you just have to keep your car moving as quickly as the one in front. The following driver has to do a lot less work as the partial vacuum created by the car in front means there's less air for the second driver to move out of the way."

Also called Drafting by race car drivers...

Posted by: Vinny on September 30, 2002 02:42 AM

Sounds good, until a deer runs in front of the truck. This was out in the sticks somewhere between Rochester and the Pennsylvania line, and there were plenty of deer crossing signs. Also, he kept pulling over to the left like he was having trouble seeing around the truck.

Posted by: Dr. Weevil on September 30, 2002 05:55 AM

That's the downside ;-)

Posted by: Vinny on September 30, 2002 09:52 AM

I am told that truck drivers hate it when smaller vehicles draft them, because their gas mileage gets worse in the same proportion that the gas mileage of the drafting/slipstreaming vehicle gets better.

Posted by: Mary on October 1, 2002 09:00 PM

Race drivers do this all the time, but they have faster reflexes than most people - and shorter life expectancy. I tried it once. My employers had rather bizarrely decided to obtain the company van for the Arizona office near the home office in Virginia and so I was delivering it. Somewhere west of Abilene I got tired of the 18 wheelers zooming past me - even when I floored it and got that underpowered heap up to it's maximum at 82 mph. So I swung in close behind a big truck, and it locked right in there. The speedometer maxed out at 85.

But you really don't want to do that when the truck might have to stop suddenly.

Posted by: markm on October 1, 2002 09:32 PM