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Posted by Graeme Corner

Ready to become a fuel saver? When it comes to reducing your fuel spend and impact on the environment, you can learn a lot from the way commercial fleets manage their vehicles. Here are six fuel saver tips to consider.

You hardly need to be the most devout environmentalist to understand the pressing need to drive in a way that’s a little kinder to Mother Nature. A 2016 report from the Royal College of Physicians and Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health found that air pollution is attributable to 40,000 early deaths per year in the UK. In 2013, transport accounted for 26% of all UK greenhouse gas emissions.

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The situation appears to be even bleaker in the US. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that motor vehicles produce roughly one-half of pollutants like VOCs, nitrogen oxide and particulate matter. 75% percent of carbon monoxide emissions come from automobiles and, in urban areas, harmful automotive emissions are responsible for anywhere between 50% and 90% of air pollution.

You might think that hulking great lorries and other commercial vehicles are the biggest polluters on the roads. But many commercial fleets have some pretty savvy ways of reducing their fuel use as well as their environmental impact, with systems that work to prevent many kinds of inefficient driver behaviour. The bottom line is that, as long as you’re on the road, it’s important that you contribute to the burgeoning numbers of drivers who are attempting to reduce their environmental impact. Added bonus: driving greener will save you money too.

Here are six tips.

1. Drop the engine idling

There are a few drivers out there who still think it’s necessary to leave the engine ticking over in neutral for a couple of minutes after ignition. Sure, that was the case with older cars. It’s totally unnecessary with modern engines. But whether you’re idling while waiting to pick up your partner, or have pulled over for a quick sandwich, an idling engine is incredibly wasteful when it comes to fuel consumption. Figures from Ford show that one hour of engine idling equates to 25 miles of driving, making it the first habit to ditch if you want to reduce your fuel spend.

2. Find the most efficient route

The fastest route isn’t always the most fuel efficient; the shortest route isn’t always the most fuel efficient. Many SatNav systems will provide an option for the route that burns the least fuel. Otherwise pop your points of departure and arrival into Google Maps and you will be offered a selection of routes (based on live traffic conditions) with an estimated fuel spend. Try to avoid driving in rush hour whenever possible. Low gears mean high fuel use.

3. Stop busting the speed limits

It endangers you, your passengers and other road users. It also guzzles fuel. Speeding has no redeeming features. AA data shows that travelling on a motorway at 80-85mph, rather than 70mph, can increase fuel consumption by more than 25%. That’s huge! Meanwhile the difference between 65mph and 55mph is 15% fuel spend.

4. Stop being so heavy footed

Rapid acceleration and harsh braking. They waste fuel and make very little difference to your journey time. Try to read the road in front of you and bring your car to a more gradual halt. As for speeding off when the lights turn green, you know the deal: don’t smash the imaginary egg between your foot and the accelerator. Your bank balance will welcome a dose of phalangeal frugality on the pedals.

5. Use the appropriate gear

You already know this, but it’s worth paying attention to your gear use – especially when you are driving on unfamiliar roads. If your engine is wailing like a banshee, it’s probably time to depress that clutch and shift up. Likewise, it’s just as bad in terms of fuel efficiency to be trundling along at 30mph with your foot to the floor in fifth gear. What would your old driving instructor say?

6. Keep your vehicle in good shape

Vehicles are most efficient when they’re happy. That means looking after them. Your dipstick is there for a reason. Check your oil levels regularly. Even something as mundane as tyre pressure can make a huge difference to your fuel efficiency. One under-inflated tyre can cut fuel economy by 2% per pound of pressure below the proper inflation level. When a tyre is 4-5 psi below the manufacturer’s recommended pressure, fuel consumption increases by 10% – and reduces the lifespan of the tyre too.

Over to you…!

So there you have it. Make like the pros and implement some simple steps to reduce your fuel consumption. If you even have to drive at all. Whenever you have the option, opt for public transport, cycling or walking. Levels of NO2 – a harmful air pollutant – can be up to 2.5 times higher inside your car than outside it. Best of luck!

The image included in this article was originally shared by Didier Vidal under the Creative Commons license.

graeme's picture
Graeme Corner

The majority of my time is spent ensuring that our team delivers simple and cost-effective solutions to our customers that face the challenges of running a fleet of vehicles.
Occasionally I manage to sneak away to enjoy time with family and friends or a quick game of golf ….