Glass of Water iPhone App - 1
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Here's an idea: driving with a glass of water on the dashboard. This is a suggestion from Toyota. Yes, the maker of the Prius hybrid has come out with a distinctly low-tech way of saving gas. And no, Toyota doesn't mean it literally.

Instead, just imagine that glass of water on the dash and drive around in a smooth manner, so as not to "spill" anything. It's a bit like the old advice of driving as if there are eggs under the pedals. By using this method, Toyota predicts improvements in fuel consumption of up to 10 percent.

The best way to avoid a virtual watery omelet in the footwell is to refrain from sharp, sudden movements, like hard braking or acceleration, or sudden tugs at the steering wheel. This means looking further ahead than a driver usually might, creating a greater window for reaction times. No bad thing even without the gas-saving pay-off.

Toyota's Swedish division (originators of this idea) has set up a website, www.aglassofwater.org, that supplies many helpful hints on keeping the radio "dry" and the fuel gauge nearer to F. Including some not-so-obvious ones like clearing out the trunk, to avoid schlepping around unnecessary weight, and not starting the engine until there's an opportunity to move. Those extra few seconds spent in a parking space adjusting the mirror and clicking the seatbelt into place all add up.

And naturally, there's an app for that. This is perhaps the best little fuel-saving tool, the "Glass of Water" iPhone app records distance travelled, time spent, fuel used and how much digital water has lapped over the rim of the virtual glass (the GoW site reminds us that we shouldn't be looking at our iPhones while driving). It stores each run and shows drivers how they can improve their thrift-and-shift techniques. The results are also uploaded to the site, so there can be a whole group of drivers around the world competing with each other to get the best figures. Ultimately, it's using human nature to conserve fuel, because no matter the task – taking a corner a little faster, making the commute a little shorter, or making the consumption a little better – we all like a challenge.

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Colin Ryan has driven hundreds of cars thousands of miles while writing for BBC Top Gear magazine, Popular Mechanics, the Los Angeles Times, European Car, Import Tuner and many other publications, websites, TV shows, etc.

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