Green cars and greener motoring

It may be a bitter pill to swallow, but most scientists agree that driving isn’t very kind to the environment – so it’s important to reduce our carbon footprint if we can.

The aims of eco-driving are straightforward enough – to save fuel and cut emissions. Company car drivers have been able to go on eco-driving courses for several years, but wider interest will be raised by the inclusion of eco-driving in the driving test.

Driving examiners make an eco-driving assessment of learner drivers, though doing badly won’t result in a fail. At the moment the focus is on giving feedback to improve driving techniques.

The Driving Standards Agency says most drivers should see around an 8% fuel saving from eco-driving.

Which? Car researcher Dave Evans attended a one-day training course at Absolute Fleet Training, near Derby, for £300.

The day consisted of two journeys around a prescribed route interspersed with coaching.

On the first run Dave drove normally to gauge a ‘benchmark’ fuel usage. Handling, observation, anticipation, safe positioning, speed and gear changes were all examined.

During the day he worked on improving performance through driving style. The difference was striking – fuel savings were around 45% between the two runs.

Since the course Dave says he’s getting around four miles more to every gallon. He also feels much more relaxed behind the wheel.

Eco-driving tips

If you want to save money by eco-driving, here are a few tips to get you started.

  • Hone your observation and anticipation skills. Plan routes before travelling and keep a close eye on the road ahead to avoid stopping unnecessarily when approaching lights or roundabouts.
  • Accelerate smoothly and minimise the number of gear changes. Ease off the gas where possible to lower fuel consumption and use the highest gear available – but without labouring the engine. Keeping the revs between 1,500 and 2,500rpm should help.
  • Keep your tyres at the correct pressure – as stated in the car’s handbook (or often on a sticker on the driver’s door pillar). Under-inflated tyres can significantly reduce your car’s fuel economy.


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