When most people think about greener living, they think about renewable energy, walking more, and generally using less energy. However, not everyone automatically thinks about driving (apart from the advice to use your car less!) But sometimes walking, cycling or taking the bus is simply not a realistic option.
The key to a greener life from a driving perspective fundamentally falls into three main elements:
1. Ensure your car is well serviced and running well
- Drive a fuel efficient car
- Drive in an eco-safe, defensive manor
Points 1 and 2 are relative constants, you get your car serviced when it’s needed whether that’s once a year, every 12,000 miles etc. If you buy a fuel efficient car you will own a fuel efficient car until, of course, you change it (hopefully for another fuel efficient one!)
But what about driving in an eco-safe, fuel efficient manor? This is something that can vary from day to day, mile to mile, driver to driver. There are many factors relating to this, how late you are for a meeting, how impatient you feel, how much below or above the speed limit you happen to be travelling, or what you are generally like as a driver.
Defensive driver training is a way you can help ensure your driving is more environmentally friendly, not just when you are taking your time behind the wheel, or when you decide to go easy on the gas, but all the time.
Defensive driver training can reduce fuel consumption by up to 20%.
Globally we consume 92 million barrels of refined petroleum products a day. If every driver was to drive in a more fuel efficient way, which would reduce their fuel consumption by on average 20%, this would result in around 18 million barrels a day saved – just from driving in a defensive, eco-safe way.
18 million barrels is around 2.8 billion litres, that’s around a saving of over 1,000 Olympic sized swimming pools in fuel…per day!
So what are the main elements of defensive driving?
The key element of defensive driving is forward planning and awareness. This covers all elements of driving, which include:
- Being aware of the speed you are travelling at
- Having an appreciation of how excessive speed impacts on fuel consumption
- Learning how to observe in traffic to ensure you don’t “react” to hazards, at the last minute, but plan well in advance to avoid late braking or harsh acceleration, both of which significantly impact on fuel consumption.
- Having an improved level of car control – creating a smoother ride is not only more comfortable for passengers and you as a driver, but it really helps to improve fuel consumption.
- Car checks – defensive driving is also about carrying out safety checks on your car, and not just leaving it for the garage to sort out. These checks can include ensuring oil and water is sufficient, and also other basic but essential checks like tyre condition and pressures. Low tyre pressures can easily increase fuel costs by 5%. Taking the time to check will help you save fuel and of course, be safer on the roads.
Many companies are realising the importance of defensive driving, not just from a financial viewpoint, but also from an environmental and corporate social responsibility point, which also covers duty of care and safety at work. Companies who invest in driver training for car and van drivers see lower fuel and insurance costs, improved morale and lower road traffic collisions.
As a private motorist you can do your bit for the environment by becoming a defensive driver. There are many companies around the world that offer this training for both companies and private motorists. A great test to see how environmentally friendly you are as a driver is to drive route, using the MPG on board computer. Drive this route how you would normally do, record the MPG. Then do it again and try and look further ahead, plan, be smoother with the gears, throttle, steering, be aware of speed limits etc and then compare your MPG figure.
You may be pleasantly surprised.