5 Ways to Drive Greener

Whether or not you’re in the market for a greener ride, you can always drive more efficiently. Some of these tips may seem obvious, but it never hurts to repeat the basics. Really.

Consider what happened this week during Eco-Run, an event hosted by the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) that had us demoing fuel-efficient cars on short trips between Brighton and London, Ontario. For the first stage of this three-day event, 70% of the drivers were outperforming Enercan’s fuel-efficiency ratings. Then during lunch, AJAC President Clare Dear reminded all the drivers of the following basics. The effect? Second stage stats improved to 80%. If auto journalists can learn, maybe we all can.

Shut It Off
If you’re stuck watching a passing train or one of those interminably extended suburban traffic lights, turn off your engine. At shorter lights, shift to neutral so there’s no struggle between your accelerator and braking system. You’ll lessen your fuel consumption and lower your blood pressure.

Accelerate Slowly
Though city driving is slower than the highway, it’s always less fuel efficient. Why? The constant stop and go. So accelerate gently and be consistent. If you have cruise control, use it as much as possible. It not only eases strain on the hips during long drives, it eases the burden on your wallet – oh, yes, and the environment.

Increase Following Distance
Avoid bottlenecking by leaving more space behind the car in front. (Consider the efficiency of an instep marching army.) You won’t need to apply the brake so soon when the car in front approaches a light or stop sign, instead coasting to decelerate on your own time. Better still, you might catch a break with a green light and never need to brake at all.

Don’t Speed (Duh!)
Leave 5 minutes early. Practice your yoga breathing exercises when you think you’re going to be 5 minutes late. Again, this tip may seem a blinding flash of the obvious, but look how many people bitch about the price of fuel without driving the speed limit.

Use The Ecochoice Calculator
Compare cost of ownership between vehicles with a calculator that includes base price, fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas output i.e. the total cost to you and the world you share. Warning: This is addictive.

Image courtesy of Michael Cavén

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