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“Imagine there’s a balloon under your gas pedal,” explained Johnny Kanavas.  That was one of the tips offered by my instructor at the Go Green Auto Rally held last month in Long Beach, CA.

Launched by Jean Paul Libert, the Go Green Auto Rally instructs participants how to drive “green” and compete in a road rally, not for speed but efficiency. The training is very similar to racing techniques.
The goal is to teach everyone how to use the cars they already own more efficiently, and even how to efficiently use new automotive technologies, all without losing the joy of driving. is a media partner.

My car was equipped with a iPhone 4, running the “EcoGyzer” app – basically, it uses the built-in accelerometer to sense whether I was hitting the gas too much or braking too hard. There’s no cheating here.

I took to the roads around Long Beach, armed with a “cue sheet,” outlining the rally course.  I immediately felt a heightened awareness. I can see how that could be really important in being a greener driver. Driving has become second nature to me and it’s easy to not pay full attention. As I plied the suburban streets of Long Beach, I tried to employ the techniques Johnny had imparted earlier – gentle pressing on the gas pedal, coast to a red light when possible, take it easy on the brakes.  One great suggestion: keep your gaze way out ahead so you can anticipate traffic that might cause you break suddenly or spot upcoming red lights.

I got on the 405 freeway and merged seamlessly with the traffic. Then I blew it. I got off the ramp to the 710 heading back to Long Beach – way too hot. I jammed on the brakes. Not good.

Then I did it again. I passed a truck, and wound up way too close to the car in front of me. More hard braking.

Later, the Go Green Auto Rally crew downloaded my results and printed out a map of the rally course The EcoGyzer nailed me on the areas where knew I hit it too hard. But it also showed me a few areas where I didn’t realize that I was mashing the gas.  Overall, I did pretty well considering that I was driving a borrowed car and in an unfamiliar area.

About the Go Green Auto Rally (GGAR): The Go Green Auto Rally held its pilot event in Long Beach, California and will hold 12 events in 2011. Each Go Green Auto Rally will welcome the first 200 drivers to enter. The eco-friendly competition will also welcome a variety of special auto showcases for manufacturers to profile the latest in new green technologies. For more information on how the Go Green Auto Rally can help drivers improve their overall safety and become more environmentally efficient, register for an event at