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25 Jun 2019
Rob Griffin Rob Griffin

How to be a greener driver

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eco driving

If you're trying to do your bit for the environment, follow these eco-friendly driving tips 

Do you have any top tips for being a greener driver? Share your advice in the comments!

With summer in full swing, it's no surprise that the roads are getting busier. Festival season in general will see our motorways become a hotbed of traffic as festival-goers journey to the campsite ahead of the big day.

Unfortunately, the these events also mean an increase in noise, congestion and pollution, which is bad news for our long-suffering environment.

So what can you do to lessen the environmental impact – aside from travelling everywhere on public transport or splashing out on an electric car?

Here are a few suggestions:

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Car share

Look to fill any free seats in your car. Not only will this reduce the number of vehicles heading in the same direction but your passengers can chip in with petrol money.

The broader concept of car sharing is certainly on the rise. In fact, a study by ING predicts the shared car fleet in Europe will rise to 7.5 million vehicles by 2035.

Don't forget to share the load and have your mates drive for some of the journey. Just make sure that they have a temporary car insurance policy so they can drive your car.

Don't assume that they'll have the 'drive other cars' add-on as part of their standard car insurance.

READ MORE: Can I drive someone else's car on my car insurance policy?

Check your tyre pressures

If they’re under-inflated then your car’s engine will have to work harder to get them turning properly – and that means you’ll use more fuel.

The optimum pressure will vary between tyres but the suggested amounts – for varying passenger numbers – is usually printed on the inside of the driver’s door.

Slim down your belongings

You’ll obviously need a tent and a pair of wellie boots for trudging through the festival mud if you’re heading to a music festival – but try to keep everything to a minimum.

Why? Well, a heavier vehicle burns more fuel. It might seem bizarre to think the extra suitcase will have a negative effect but every little counts.

Take your car for a service

If you’ve a long journey ahead then it’ll pay you to book in for a service and have a mechanic check that everything is working as it should.

It’s worth getting the emissions checked at the same time. If there’s a problem with any part of the exhaust system then you could be leaving harmful fumes in your wake.

READ MORE: Signs your car needs a service

eco driving

Plan your journey

Rather than being on the road at peak times – and sitting for hours in queues with the engine idling – consider driving when others are tucked up in bed.

Similarly, check whether an alternative route may be quicker – even if it’s actually longer in mileage terms. If it’s less popular then there’s a chance it’ll actually take less time.

It’s estimated that an idling car produces up to 150 balloons of exhaust emissions, containing harmful chemicals, every minute.

READ MORE: The best sat-navs on the market 

Make it more aerodynamic

No, we don’t mean adding a spoiler – just avoid fixing roof racks and boxes as these will increase drag and lead to higher fuel consumption.

The same can be said if you have a penchant for strapping mountain bikes to the top or back of your vehicle. 

Drive steadily

Keeping a constant, steady speed will help minimise the amount of fuel you burn through on the journey. If you have a heavy foot then you’ll visit more petrol stations.

Focus on accelerating smoothly and seeing what’s happening on the road ahead so you can anticipate the need to brake and bring your car to a stop more gradually.

READ MORE: How to check your tyre pressure and depth

Stick to the speed limit

Of course, you’ll do this anyway. But there's an added incentive. 

Drive at 70mph and you’ll use up to 9% more than at 60mph, and up to 15% more than at 50mph. Pushing it up to 80mph can use up to 25% more fuel than at 70mph.

Don’t turn on the air conditioning

Yes, this can have a detrimental effect too! It’s tempting to get that blast of icy cold air but this also means your engine works harder and consumes more fuel.

If it’s a hot day – and you’ll be lucky if it is given the awful summer so far – then open your windows for an hour before you set off to let out the heat in the cabin.

Keep your DPF clean

What is this? It stands for Diesel Particulate Filter, which is put in the exhaust to stop soot passing into the atmosphere. These have been fitted to diesel cars since 2009.

However, make sure you follow the manufacturer’s recommendations when it comes to keeping them in good working order. 

eco driving

Take your rubbish home with you

Don’t leave your cartons, bottles and crisp wrappers strewn across the countryside – collect them together and dispose of properly at home.

Not only will this reduce the work for the army of volunteers tasked with clearing up after you but it will hopefully mean less pollution getting into the streams.

Monitor your fuel consumption

If your car has an on-board computer then it’s easy to see how many miles per gallon you are averaging. You can also see how the way you drive affects this figure.

However, all is not lost if you haven’t got such a gadget. You can fill the tank and record the mileage. Then, when you need to refill, go back to the same garage and pump.

Divide the total mileage covered since your initial garage visit by the total number of litres used – and multiply by 4.54 to get the miles per gallon figure.

READ MORE: 13 fuel-saving tips to improve fuel economy  

Consider noise pollution

Finally, if you’re blasting tunes out of your stereo then bear in mind how miserable this may be for drivers stuck alongside you in queues - especially if your music taste is poor!

Have your say

What other eco-friendly driving tips do you have? Let us know in the comments!

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