Eco-Driving Practices

Attribution Some rights reserved by Bo Hee Kim at Richmond Confidential
Drive Less! Use Transit, Bicycle and Walk, and Reduce Travel.

Avoid short trips. With multiple stops, go to your farthest destination first to warm up your engine more quickly for better fuel economy. Follow the lead of an increasing number of Massachusetts citizens and take the subway, commuter rail, bus, carpools and vanpools (see MassRIDES, at Join employer-sponsored transportation programs to save money and to network with colleagues. Use passenger ferries; bicycle and walk. Arrange for telecommuting and live closer to work when feasible.

Drive the Posted Speed Limit or the Minimum Allowed

Vehicle fuel consumption increases about 5% for every 5 miles per hour (mph) driven above 60 mph. Overall savings in fuel costs from slower driving can range from 7% to 23%.

Avoid Rapid Starts & Stops and Maintain a Constant Speed

“Jack rabbit” starts and hard stops can increase fuel use by up to 40% but reduce travel time by only 4%. Accelerate gradually. Coast up to stops where not prohibited. Conserve momentum; a steady speed often helps avoid red lights and keeps cars moving more efficiently. Drive sensibly; you can save 5% to 33% in city driving costs. The E-ZPass MA transponder will let you sail through road, tunnel, and bridge toll plazas in 12 Eastern states. HOV (high occupancy vehicle) lanes save time and fuel. Drive I-93 HOV lanes north and south of downtown Boston with two or more people in your vehicle.

Avoid Idling

Idling gets ZERO mpg. Do not idle or race your engine to warm up the engine; it will warm up more quickly when you are driving. If you need to idle, shift to neutral, so the engine is not working against your brake and consuming more fuel.

Lighten Your Load

Remove unnecessary items from your vehicle. Every extra 100 pounds in or on the vehicle could reduce your mpg by up to 2%. Remove unused roof, ski, and bike racks, and try not to carry items on your roof or on a trailer; they increase aerodynamic drag and fuel use.

Keep Your Cool; It’s a Breeze

Roll down windows and use the flow through air vents when first getting into a hot car and generally when driving under 40 mph. Above 40 mph, air conditioning is more fuel efficient than open windows; use the “recycle inside air” feature, that reuses the cooled air inside the car and so doesn’t take as much gas to run. Try to park in the shade or use a window heat reflector.

Use the Highest Gear Possible

Using the highest gear, or Overdrive, on highways if your car has this feature. This practice requires less power while reducing fuel consumption, CO2 emissions, and engine wear.

Respect Merging Traffic; Don’t Block Intersections

Let vehicles make left turns out of parking lots and side roads and driveways. When in a stopped line of vehicles, leave space for passage to and from side streets, and don’t get caught in the middle of an intersection when the traffic light turns red.

Good Maintenance Practices

Read your Vehicle Owner’s Manual & Follow the Recommended Maintenance Schedule
  1. Change engine oil with correct grade oil (1-2% mpg benefit)
  2. Replace clogged air filter (up to 10 % mpg benefit)
  3. Tune your engine (4% average mpg benefit)
Check Your Tire Pressure Monthly

An estimated 25% of all vehicles are running on under inflated tires. Proper tire pressure is safer, extends tire life, and can improve mpg by up to 3%. You can:

  1. Purchase a quality tire pressure gauge for accurate readings, and
  2. Check tire pressure when tires are cold (not driven for at least 3 hours or for less than 1.5 miles).

Note: Tire pressures change an average of 1 PSI for every 10ºF change in air temperature, and can deflate naturally up to 1.5 PSI per month.

Consider Purchasing Fuel-Efficient Tires

“Lower rolling resistance” tires that can improve mileage now are available. Tire traction and handling characteristics for your car should be checked when considering these tires.

Tighten Your Fuel Tank Cap

A loose, damaged, or missing fuel tank cap can cost you as much as 30 gallons of fuel a year. Unsecure or missing fuel caps can also lead to fuel contamination and engine malfunctions that waste money.

Move from “Lead Foot” to “Feather Foot”

For more information and tips, visit other useful websites, including:

Buy a Fuel-efficient Vehicle

If you are in the market for a new or used car, buy the most fuel-efficient one that will meet your family’s needs. MPG ratings for all new cars can be found at: No matter what size vehicle you need, you can save a lot of gas by choosing one of the models with the best mileage ratings. For example, if gas costs $3 a gallon and you drive 15,000 miles a year, you could save $1,300 a year by buying a 26 mpg mid-size car rather than a 15 mpg SUV.Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Executive Office of Transportation and Public Works
10 Park Plaza, Suite 3170
Boston, MA 02116
(617) 973-7000


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