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Smarter driving saves £500 a year on fuel

An unhappy fuel tankFuel prices may be sky-high but new findings show the average motorist can save around £500 a year on fuel by applying simple driving tips.

As part of the Smarter Cab Drivers Competition organised by oil giant Shell, 18 taxi drivers from across the UK spent a month competing to become more fuel-efficient.

By making simple changes to the way they drive the cabbies were able to cut fuel consumption by 20 per cent in a month.

Based on these savings, an average everyday driver could save £544 according to Shell – enough to cover the cost of road tax for two years.

Further findings from Shell show that if all the UK’s 34.1 million drivers applied the simple smarter saving tips, they could make a collective saving of up to £18.5 billion.

So what are the best steps you can take to cut your fuel costs?

Drive down the cost of motoring

To improve fuel efficiency, you should maintain momentum and drive smoothly, but with anticipation.

Read the road ahead to avoid braking too harshly, keep the revs down, and use the right gear.

Turn your air conditioning off and open the windows instead. Also turn off your heated windscreen and demister when you don’t need them.

Check your tyres have the correct amount of air, as under-inflated tyres create more rolling resistance which means they use more fuel.

Reduce the load in your boot and remove unnecessary equipment such as roof racks and trailers.

You can also maintain engine efficiency by getting the car regularly serviced.

Motorway driving tips

When you’re on the motorway keep your distance, use higher gears, keep your speed down, and make use of cruise control.

Plan your journey to avoid getting lost as well as to avoid traffic jams. If stationary for long periods, switch off your engine.

“With petrol prices close to the all-time high, people are thinking twice about whether they can afford to drive,” says Edmund King, president of the motoring organisation the AA.

“Drivers should follow the lead set by the cabbies and cut their fuel consumption,” he adds.

Environmental benefits

Smarter driving means you not only save money but can do your bit towards saving the environment too, as by saving fuel drivers can reduce their CO2 emissions.

“Fuel prices are high right now, but there are steps people can take to save fuel and money – and also the environment,” says Melanie Lane from Shell.

“By becoming smarter and more fuel-efficient, drivers will soon see the impact on their pocket,” she adds.

Compare petrol prices

As well as efficient driving you can also avoid paying too much at the pumps by logging onto, a site which scours prices at local petrol stations to find the cheapest fuel.

When filling up, take a moment to ensure you’re putting the right fuel into your tank, as putting petrol into a diesel vehicle or vice-versa can cost you hundreds of pounds in repairs.

You can also use our fuel calculator to work out your fuel costs for your particular car.

Cut the cost of cover

Motorists can also save themselves money by taking steps to reduce the cost of their motor insurance.

Never automatically accept the renewal quote from your insurer until you’ve shopped around to see if you can get a better deal elsewhere. New customers almost always get a better deal than existing customers.

Give your insurer an accurate estimate of your annual mileage and don’t make unnecessary modifications to your car, such as tinted windows or a spoiler.

Make further savings by parking your car in a garage and fitting an approved alarm or immobiliser.

See if you can lower your premium by increasing the voluntary excess and by stripping out unwanted insurance extras such as a courtesy car.

Young drivers should also consider pay-as-you-drive policies which reward safe and sensible driving with discounted premiums.

If you can, pay your insurance premiums upfront in one go as most insurers charge interest on monthly payments.

Leave your car behind

Finally, don’t forget that some of the biggest savings can be made by leaving your car behind, and by using alternative forms of transport.

For short journeys, think about walking or cycling instead, and for longer journeys, make use of public transport, or look into signing up to a car-sharing scheme.


Esther Shaw

Esther Shaw

Esther Shaw is a regular contributor to and is the former deputy money editor at The Independent and Independent on Sunday. Before that, she worked as a money and City reporter on The Daily Express and Sunday Express.
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