I keep hearing about ways to better fuel economy, and sometimes the tips seem so simple it's hard to believe they can make that much of a difference, even though I've proven it to myself in a previous column.

Now, the Environment Report's Rene Gutel chimes in. She recently went out with an "eco-drive trainer" and drove the same route three times.

First time around, with no advice: 27 miles a gallon. By the third time: 36 miles a gallon.

She did it by upshifting and a whole lot of anticipating and coasting. She did it by accellerating and breaking smoothly.
She said it was like learning how to drive all over again.

Rene's coach was Mike Speck from Arizona's Pro Formance Group, which has teamed up with Ford to pilot an eco-driving program for companies with fleets.

Over a four-day period, according to a Ford press release, the drivers got improvements that ranged from six percent to 50 percent, which I suppose just goes to show how difficult some people find it to lighten up on the gas pedal.

The Sports Car Club of America verified the results, which average a 24 percent improvement.

Here's a list of tips (nothing really surprising, but some people need all the help they can get).

The auto industry has historically fought government-mandated fuel efficiency standards. But the Alliance of Automovile Manufacturers nevertheless prmotes eco-driving at www.EcoDrivingUSA.com.