Mark writes: In our posting about transportation in September, I promised to work on the efficiency of my driving.
I started by taking an online course sponsored by Natural Resources Canada. It’s designed to teach drivers some simple techniques to lower fuel consumption. You can sign up for it here.
The course has 3 main topics: Driving Behaviour (driver efficiency), Trip Planning (to drive a shorter distance by combining trips, etc), and Improving Your Vehicle’s Performance.
Here are a couple of interesting statistics, and a few of the pointers I got from the course.
Amazingly, there is one car for every two people in Canada. About 18 million light vehicles drive a whopping 300 billion Km every year. And the average vehicle puts about 4 tones of Co2 into the air each year. If we could drive less and more efficiently, that would make a big difference.
Here’s how we can improve:
Accelerate gently. Imagine you have an egg on the gas pedal. In the city, 50% of fuel is burned just getting up to speed from a stop, so this is the most important thing you can do. It should take five seconds to get to 20Km/hr from a complete stop.
Maintain a steady speed and anticipate traffic, so you don’t have to slow and accelerate so much. If you watch ahead, you can coast to slow down, which also saves fuel.
Avoid high speeds. Cars are typically most efficient from 50-80Km/hr. It can take 20% more fuel to drive 120Km/hr compared to 100Km/hr.
The course goes through much more detail on how to plan errands to drive shorter distances, and how to make your car run more efficiently (by reducing weight, getting a tune-up, and keeping the tires properly inflated).
Through practicing more awareness of my own driving habits and being more aware of other traffic, I became less hurried and much calmer as I drove. Somehow this awareness had made city driving at lot less… well, annoying!
And so far, I have improved my fuel consumption for city driving by about 20%.