An in-depth study conducted by Fiat into driving techniques across Europe, which is apparently the first of its kind anywhere in the world, proves two quite remarkable things:
1. The United Kingdom has the best drivers of the countries tested: with “exceptionally smooth and thoughtful handling of gears” and
2. People who use eco-driving techniques actually reduce the time it takes to get from A to B, thereby travelling at an increased average speed. In other words they speed up by accelerating less!
OK, so we’re the best eco drivers, what does that mean? Well we tend to make the biggest fuel reductions when given the training. This is great news in a time of carbon consciousness and rising fuel prices.We can significantly reduce our carbon footprint (and costs) by following simple measures:
Having looked at the study it looks pretty robust. Fiat put bits of electrical kit in thousands of peoples’ actual cars around Europe and measured their real-life driving habits before and after training.
Here’s the evidence in detail (showing the best and worst in Europe):
And here’s the proof that eco driving can actually speed up journeys:
To add information from my own perspective, I drive from my home in Edinburgh to the office in Stirling covering 1,344 miles each month which, over the course of a year, adds up to a minimum of 14,784 miles (based on 11 months work). I would dearly love to travel by train or coach but it would take at least 1 hour 45 minutes each way (3.5 hours a day) which, with a young family, is just not practical.
When I drive carelessly, my car averages 48mpg but when I drive carefully (using eco driving measures) I can achieve 60mpg. And I can say quite honestly that it is a nicer way to travel. It doesn’t take me much longer to get to and from work and I end up less stressed than when I try to bomb around the place. Often I will catch a car that has overtaken me at the next set of lights/traffic jam. It might sound a bit far fetched but it’s a life changing experience to stop looking at the clock and focus on the MPG guage instead.
Also, the savings really do add up:
Assuming fuel costs £1.38 a litre:
At 48 mpg, the yearly cost is £1932.37
At 60mpg, the yearly cost is £1545.82
The saving: £386.55 or £32 a month. That’s around half a tank of fuel saved each month which is equivalent to an annual saving of 561 kg of CO2, that’s over half a tonne! This brings my overall footprint down to approximately 10 tonnes per year.
For people interested, I dislike having such a large transport footprint (there is no Going Carbon Neutral Edinburgh) so I try to reduce my carbon footprint in other ways:
I don’t fly and my family and I holiday in the UK. I cycle to and from meetings in and around Stirling (I have a work bike). I don’t eat meat for at least two days each week and when I do it’s mostly chicken (which is lower carbon). I monitor my electricity use at home with an energy monitor and our 3 bedroom house uses on average 11kWh of electricity per day, which mainly comes from our electric shower and washing machine (two children under 3 create a lot of washing). We heat our home with gas and keep our thermostat at 19 degrees. We have double glazing and a fully insulated loft. I don’t have a PC at home, using a small laptop instead. I am currently exploring renewable technologies including solar PV and solar thermal (our roof is south facing). I compost my food waste and recycle as much of the rest as possible. I only buy refurbished furniture and second hand gadgets (cameras etc.). My car is 8 years old but has an efficient diesel engine capable of 60 mpg, so I’m not replacing it until this comes out.