Are you an Eco-driver

Eng. Maritza VARGAS
Independent Environmental and Sustainability Consultant

Just type “eco” on your computer and an entire world of eco-friendly products and services will open up to your eyes like witnessing the birth of a new galaxy.

There are eco-houses, eco-tours, eco-schools, eco-toys, eco-tools, eco-restaurants, eco-furniture, eco-paint, eco-cement, eco-clothing, eco-car, eco-build, eco-tyres, eco-mobile, eco-news, and thousand more eco-products trying to satisfy an incremental number of citizens around the world who are preoccupied for the global escalating problems and are willing to make choices to mitigate the consequences of climate change, even though the eco-choices could represent an extra burden on their budget.

In the transport sector, new strategies, policies and programs have been implemented to address eco-transportation and eco-mobility at a city, country and even at a regional level.

An excellent example is The Transport Challenge in Europe, with an allocated budget of €6 339 million for the period of 2014 -2020. The objective of the program is to contribute to four key objectives:

  • Providing funding for a resource efficient transport that respect the environment
  • Aiming at a better mobility, less congestion, more safety and security with a substantial reduction of traffic congestion
  • Promoting a global leadership for the European transport industry
  • Targeting at a socio-economic and behavioral research and forward looking activities for policy making

These kinds of programs are a very effective way to pave the road towards sustainable mobility and transportation. However, only a small group of people is in the position to decide and implement these programs. And not all the countries in the world have implemented similar initiatives yet. Consequently, the question is for those concerned citizens, knowingthe fact that the transport sector accounts for around 20 % of global emissions; those people who acknowledge the health related issues associated to vehicles, like air pollution, noise, stress for congestion and even road accidents.

So, what can an average citizen do to reduce the negative impacts of transportation? How can any of us become an eco-driver?

Actually, we have the power to drive smarter in our “hands and feet”: using less fuel, polluting less, reducing noise, improving the air quality, making our roads safer and enhancing our cities’ mobility. It is simple; we can do all of the above, just by changing our obsolete driving techniques and following the golden rules of Eco-driving.

Golden Rules of Eco-driving

1. Anticipate Traffic Flow

Read the road as far ahead as possible and anticipate the flow of traffic.

  • If you see a red traffic light coming, do not accelerate; let the kinetic energy take you closer to the light.
  • Key action: Step off the accelerator if traffic flow is slowing down in order to keep a safe distance.
  • Maintain a larger safety distance between other cars to increase the scope of action in traffic flow.
  • Make maximum use of the vehicle's momentum (in gear or neutral) and accelerate and brake smoothly.
  • Braking less will extend the life span of your breaking system. And accelerating less saves fuel and money.
2. Maintain a steady speed at low RPM

  • Drive smoothly, using the highest possible gear at low RPM.
  • Avoid driving at excessive speeds. Speeding over 120 Kph consumes more fuel because is going at higher RPM plus aerodynamic drag
  • Always keep a steady speed and avoid unnecessary braking and acceleration.
  • Use speed cruise control if possible
3. Shift up early

  • Shift to a higher gear at around 2,000 RPM.
  • Consider the traffic situation and vehicle specifics (like the engine's torque curve).
4. Check air pressure frequently

Ensure your tires are properly inflated, as low tire pressure is a safety risk and wastes fuel almost 2%. Always check for the recommendations on the car's manual.

5. Avoid unnecessary loading

Remove heavy items and unused racks from the vehicle. Also closing your windows on the motorway reduces drag and helps increase fuel economy.

6. Stop Idling

Why burn fuel if you are not moving? If the car will be stopped for more than 30 seconds turn off the engine.

7. Share your car

Car-pooling is a great way to eco-drive. One way to cut emissions per person and fuel bills by 50 per cent is to add another passenger. And to use public transportation whenever is available.

8. Use the Air-conditioning sparingly

Using air con unnecessarily adds five per cent to your CO2 emissions.

9. Only drive if it is necessary

Around 25% of all car trips are less than 2 kilometers and 50 percent of car trips are less than 5 kilometers in length. Choosing to cycle or walk

not only has positive effects on the environment, but also on your health and budget. The use of public transport also helps you save money and avoid stress and exhaust gases.

Eco-driving is been used all over the world from Japan, Indonesia, Korea, Australia, Europe, South Africa,Mexico, Brazil, USA and Canada among others.

  • In the Netherlands there has been a long tradition of eco-driving projects and activities since 1988.
  • The Dutch eco-driving program has proven to realize substantial reductions in CO2 emissions and to contribute to Environmentally Sustainable Transport. It has also shown positive effects on other important policy issues like road safety, traffic noise pollution and driver stress. (FIA region)

Next time you choose a car, keep in mind its fuel consumption and consider a low-emission car. Choosing a fuel-efficient model with reduced CO2 emissions directly. Diesel vehicles use less fuel to drive the same distance, however their emissions contain more pollutants than gasoline car. Diesel vehiclesshould always be equipped with particulate filters. Also, having a fuel consumption display helps you save fuel.

Following the Golden Rules of Eco-driving on the right car, we will be driving smarter in a responsible, safe, less polluting manner and at the same time, saving money.

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