Amid soaring gas prices, one California driver has learned how to get more than 80 miles per gallon

"Hypermilers" go to extremes for fuel efficiency

Southern California is home to the nation's highest gas prices, which are nearly $2 per gallon higher than a year ago. The costs have led some residents to master the art of fuel efficiency. 

Wayne Gerdis, who is serious about making his gas tank go further, said he's getting "well over 80 miles per gallon" — about 60% further than what the Environmental Protection Agency says his plug-in Prius hybrid should be getting. 

Gerdis is one of the nation's leading "hypermilers" — drivers who take fuel economy to the extreme. Some try to reduce drag, drop weight and even draft behind semi trucks. 

Gerdis often coasts downhill and takes a slow and steady approach to driving, like going 55 miles per hour on Interstate 5 outside of San Diego, even if it means he's going a lot slower than virtually everyone else on the road. 

"That's OK," Gerdis told CBS News. "They aren't buying my gas." 

Gerdis says he always follows the speed limit. 

"Speed kills fuel economy, it does," he said. "There's no way around it." 

His goal is to always stay moving by gently accelerating. And he starts slowly braking well before a red light so that he can cruise through as it turns green. 

Brian Cooley, an editor at CNET, said the techniques could annoy other drivers, but "most of the tips in the 'hypermilers' playbook are smart." 

"The optics are going to be bad to other drivers because it's not the normal pattern we all follow," Cooley told CBS News. 

On the day CBS News drove around with Gerdis, he averaged 110 miles per gallon on city streets. It all adds up — he saves about $2,500 per year. 

"Every dollar I save in fuel is a dollar in my pocket," he said.


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