August 13, 2007 12:00 PM

Wayne Gerdes begins his morning commute by pushing his blue Honda Accord down a sloping driveway and coasting a third of a mile before he turns on the engine. Then, while cruising at or below the speed limit, he’ll turn off the engine and glide. Or follow in the wake of vehicles passing ahead of him. Or take curves without putting his foot on the brake. When his driving elicits irate honks and salty slurs from fellow motorists, he’ll whip out his cell phone and take photos of the tailgaters behind him. Or stick his hand out of his sunroof and flash “5-5” to remind them of the legal limit. “It’s my way of lashing out,” he says. Critics argue that some of his methods could lead to loss of control. Gerdes, a leader in a gas-conserving movement known as hypermiling, downplays that. Meanwhile he’s squeezing 60 mpg out of his 2005 Accord with tricks like shutting off the AC or the heat during the 2 1/2-hour commute from his Wadsworth, Ill., home to his job as a nuclear plant operator. “When it goes above 95°, I’ll use an ice vest, like race car drivers,” says Gerdes, 44, who is married with three children. For those wary of catching his act on the road, Gerdes also competes in hypermiling marathons. Best effort? Getting 180 mpg out of a Honda Insight.

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