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.
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.