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'Eco-safe Driving' and the Environment

(Extract from the DSA website)

We all recognise that transport is an essential part of our lives and most of us also recognise that the environmental consequences of driving are immense. The emissions produced by vehicles cause damage to the environment. Vehicle manufacturers are devoting time, effort and money developing technology that should ensure that vehicles become more environmentally friendly.

But those of us who drive can also help by amending our driving style to one that uses less fuel, and as a result produces less polluting chemicals. And of course the less fuel we use the more money we can save ourselves!

Over the last year or so Driving Standards Agency has invested a great deal of time and effort in developing the principles of 'Eco-safe driving'. During the process we looked at the following areas, and these have now been included in the revised style of driving:

-        Enhanced hazard perception and awareness skills

-        Selective use of gears

-        Progressive use of accelerator

-        Compliance with speed limits

-        Utilisation of engine braking/torque

-        Use of cruise control

To enable this work to progress we installed a sophisticated fuel monitoring device in several vehicles which allowed us to monitor and compare fuel used when a variety of driving styles were used by different drivers.

We also considered other issues such as:

-        Parking

-        Carrying unnecessary weight

-        Route planning

The recently published version of 'Driving - the essential skills' has an entire chapter on 'Eco-safe driving' and you will find much more information there. There is also a chapter on 'Avoiding congestion'.

You may already use some of the techniques when you are driving, but we found that even the most experienced driver can benefit from further development.

If you adopt your driving to include these changes you should become a more environmentally friendly, economically aware driver and may enjoy your journeys more as they become less stressful and more comfortable.

However, although it is good to be aware of environmental issues and save fuel it is even more important that you do not compromise your safety and that of other road users while you are doing so. At all times you should be prepared to adapt to changing conditions and it may be that you have to sacrifice fuel saving for safety.

We have conducted a number of trials of this revised style using drivers of different levels of experience, ranging from novices to experts. Across that range we have demonstrated that savings can be achieved between 5% and 17%, (averaging 8.5%) in fuel used, and as a consequence a reduction in the volume of atmosphere polluting chemicals produced. As a general rule of thumb it is fair to say that the less experienced drivers are able to demonstrate greater savings.

In an attempt to allow a wider audience to experience 'Eco-safe driving' we invited a number of representatives from the ADI Consultative Groups to Cardington.

Following that, Mike Barrett, Business Development Manager, Automobile Association, said 'A number of instructors have already adapted to this style, in their own driving, and report substantial savings in reduced fuel costs'. Eddie Barnaville, Driving Instructors

Association, reported in an article in 'Driving Instructor', 'Over the 16 km drive on the 2nd run, not only did I average 2 or 3 mph faster, saving one and half minutes, but more importantly I saved 10% on my fuel bill'.

It is probably fair to say that some representatives arrived to take part in the demonstration with a cynical view of 'Eco-safe driving'. But by the end of the day they had been converted and in all cases were able to show a saving in fuel used.

The EU 3rd Directive on Driving Licences, (Draft), contains a proposal that all licence acquisition driving tests, (excluding Cat B) will contain an element that considers the environmental driving of the candidate. Although Cat B is currently excluded, there is no guarantee that this will remain so and we should all be prepared for what may happen in the future.

Ultimately we would like to see all driving instructors taking on board the principles of 'Eco-safe driving' and introducing them into new-driver training. This should lead to a group of drivers who from day-one drive in an environmentally friendly way.

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