With air pollution becoming a big concern globally, the concept of eco-driving is becoming quite significant for drivers at all levels. Statistics indicate that 5 million people across the EU make use of road transport and it generates close to 2% of the total GDP. While roadways are the life blood of the European economy through the countries, carbon emissions and energy efficiency remain a major concern. The exhaust from fuel driven vehicles is a major contributor to the problem of carbon emission as for every litre of petrol combustion, 2.2 kilograms of Carbon Dioxide is produced.
With the European target of 80% CO2 emission reduction by 2050, eco-driving will play an important role throughout Europe. In addition to being beneficial for the environment, eco driving also provides more comfort to the driver and the passengers as well and improves road safety. Small changes made by a driver by adopting some new principles and techniques will enhance the vehicle’s fuel economy and reduce emissions as well.
What can be achieved by the driving style known as “eco-driving”?
Adopting the practices of eco-driving offers numerous benefits to a driver. Some of the major points are highlighted below.
- For any business owner who uses a fleet of vehicles for daily operation, fuel and vehicle maintenance are one of the major expenditures incurred. Studies have shown that drivers trained with the practices of eco driving can help in the reduction of fuel consumption up to 20 percent. So it is not only advantageous for businesses but for individual car owners too.
- The eco-driving practices are ideally suited for the modern engines and help them to perform efficiently for a longer period of time. In addition, it is also good for the tyres and the brake assembly of the car. This, in return will help in the reduction of the maintenance cost per vehicle.
- Eco-driving presents an energy efficient style of driving that reduces the overall carbon emission from the car. There is also the added benefit of the vehicle producing less amount of noise. Eco-driving propagates the use of lower engine rpms and less acceleration, which helps to reduce the overall noise levels by a lot.
- With concerns about the environment a top priority in most countries, the practice of eco-driving can enhance the image of any brand in the marketing arena.
- Eco-driving involves a smooth use of the accelerator, steering, transmission and brakes which results in better comfort for the passengers. It also reduces the overall driving fatigue and stress that a driver experiences. On the whole, the practice of eco-driving results in happier and more responsible drivers.
- Eco-driving emphasises on keeping a greater amount of distance from the car ahead. This results in safer driving practices and less accidents.
The steps involved in the practice of eco-driving
Once we have discussed the answer to the question of what can be achieved by the driving style known as “eco-driving”, let us look at some practices that eco-driving involves. There are some simple rules which are termed as the “golden rules” of eco-driving and we will discuss them in the following section.
The first rule advises drivers to keep the right amount of distance from the nearest vehicle and keep a close eye on the traffic flow in order to minimise the use of brakes. It calls for the drivers to anticipate the road conditions and the action of other drivers as much as possible. Maintaining a minimum distance between the cars to 3 seconds will allow a driver to conserve momentum in the best possible manner and will also provide sufficient reaction time.
A simple way to follow this is by stepping off the accelerator while the traffic is slowing down. Driving smoothly without any sharp acceleration and heavy braking is the key. Making use of the car’s momentum by letting the car roll is another effective way followed in eco-driving practices. This will definitely vary from one car model to the other and will depend of the suggestions of the manufacturer. We provide detailed driving lessons Dublin has to offer.
This step advises the drivers to drive smoothly at a low rpm with the highest gear possible. Driving at high speeds along with high rpms increase the fuel consumption of the vehicle drastically and hence the use of cruise control is recommended whenever possible. The data gathered by the Automobile Association (AA) in the UK indicates that a car moving at a speed of 136 km/h uses almost 25 percent more fuel than another moving at 112 km/h. It is always prudent to use a sensible gear ratio that enhances fuel economy.
The third step recommends shifting to a higher gear by approximately the 2,000 rpm mark. Depending on the traffic situations and the vehicle conditions, early shifting is highly recommended. While driving on flat roads, shifting to 5th gear at 50 km/h and 6th gear at any speed above 60 km/h is advised.
Full throttle acceleration is never recommended and while driving uphill, a suitable gear should be selected to minimise the pressing of the acceleration to its fullest extent. Skipping gears can be beneficial for saving fuel while accelerating in a rapid manner.
Make sure that all the tyres of the vehicle have the optimum pressure as advised by the vehicle manual. A deflated tyre will increase the frictional resistance while driving and thereby increase the overall fuel consumption. Check the tyres before any long drive as low tyre pressure is a safety risk.
It is best that you avoid any dead weight in your car and remove any object that increases the overall drag coefficient. You can remove the roof racks when they are not in use and use air conditioning sparingly to improve the fuel economy.
In addition to these main suggestions, there are also some other tips that are an important part of the eco-driving practice.
- A short trip on your car does not allow the engine to reach its optimum operating temperature and thereby impacts the fuel consumption and the overall engine durability. Cold engines also require more fuel per km than warmed-up engines.
- Do not waste your time in idling an engine as it wastes fuel. Driving off immediately after starting the car will help the engine to warm up more quickly while in action.
- For most modern engines, it is best to turn them off when the stopping period is more than 20 seconds. This time limit indicates the break-even period when the fuel saved by turning off is more than the fuel needed to re-start the engine.
- Close the windows while driving at higher speeds to reduce the drag resistance of the car.
- Plan your car-trips in advance so that you can avoid traffic congestions and choose the most effective route.
- Make sure that you service your car as per the manufacturer’s recommendation so that it remains energy efficient. Proper alignment and balance of the car components along with the use of the right oils that are low-friction in nature will enhance the overall efficiency of the vehicle.
- Statistics reveal that 25 percent of all car trips are less than 2 kilometre in length and around 50 percent are less than five kilometres. It is best that you use alternate means of transport like walking, cycling, public transport or car-pooling whenever possible. Using such means will not only help the environment but a physical activity like cycling will help you to stay fit.
After going through this article about what can be achieved by the driving style known as ‘eco-driving’, you might feel that the practice will slow you down when you are in a rush. This idea is not true at all, as studies have shown that eco-driving takes the same time and at times even less than traditional driving. The small changes of eco-driving can make big impacts in the environment when used by drivers from all around the country. Not only is it good for your car and your wallet, it also contributes a lot to make your area free from environmental pollutants.
So search out the nearest eco-driving training centre near you and enlist for the next course to take your driving skills to the green level.