During your practical test the examiner will be looking out for how efficiently you drive. This not only helps the environment in terms of emissions, but can also improve your fuel consumption and save you money! Studies have shown that the average Briton produces just under 4.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year* (in all activities)
Driving with a view to how you use the controls can have a significant impact on the wear and tear of your vehicle and the subsequent cost implications.
We can all make small changes to the way we drive in order to be more fuel efficient and consider the impact this has on our environment.
1.) Don’t over-rev the engine
Changing up through your gears too early or taking too long to change gear can put too much pressure on the engine and increase your fuel consumption. If you are going to be
stationary for several minutes (for example parked up by the kerb or waiting at a level
crossing), switch off your engine – an idling engine is a waste of fuel and produces unnecessary emissions.
2.) Keep a steady speed
Depending on the road conditions, try to keep in as high a gear possible and maintain your speed at a constant level for as long as possible.
3.) Avoid heavy braking
Look to slow down by coming off the accelerator rather than by jumping on the brakes. Also, avoid coasting (clutch down with the car in neutral when approaching a junction) as this doesn’t help if you need to accelerate out of a situation.
4.) Avoid late braking
Look and plan well ahead for hazards so that you can deal with them in good time, therefore avoiding late and heavy braking. Less stopping and starting means less emissions and pollution.
5.) Speed bumps
Resist the urge to speed up between speed bumps as the braking you will need to do when approaching the next bump will increase your fuel consumption. Keep at 15-20mph.
6.) Check your tyre pressure regularly
You can increase your fuel consumption by 2% of you check your tyre pressures regularly. If your tyre pressures are wrong this can affect the handling of your car. Think about the
load you may be carrying, the weight and stopping distance implications this may have and adjust your tyre pressures accordingly by referring to your vehicle’s handbook.
7.) Cut your air conditioning
Your fuel consumption can be increased by having your air conditioning on when driving around town at lower speeds, it’s best to have the windows open! When driving on fast roads however, the air con is more efficient than having the windows open.
8.) Carry less fuel and clutter
Driving around with a full tank of fuel when you are usually doing short journeys adds
unnecessary weight to the vehicle and subsequent wear on your tyres. Keep an eye on your fuel gauge though and avoid running the engine regularly on ‘fumes’ when you are on your reserve level as this can cause long-term damage to the vehicle. Are you driving around with a lot of clutter in the vehicle that you don’t use/need on a regular basis? This too could contribute to a higher fuel consumption and more frequent trips to the petrol station!
9.) Plan your journeys and allow more time
When you need to be somewhere by an approximate time, plan your journey carefully. Take into consideration the time of day, potential roadworks (and any diversions) that will add time to your drive so that you are not driving too fast for the road and traffic conditions and arrive safely. Maintain safe distances from vehicles ahead of you – especially on faster speed limit roads – to avoid heavy braking and gear inefficiencies that result in higher fuel consumption.
*Source: The Act on CO2 (Environment Ministry 2007)