United Nations Environment Programme

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Tool 8: Eco-driving

ecodrivingEco-driving refers to a driving style characterised by lower speeds, less acceleration and "thinking ahead" in traffic. The influence of speed and driver behaviour on emissions and fuel economy is significant. With improved driver behaviour, there are great safety benefits, and indeed, the average speed usually increases. Better driving also saves on maintenance costs such as those for brakes, clutches and vehicle suspension

Photo: Willy Raimund

Training courses in Eco-driving help the driver to reduce fuel consumption by 5-20%. A 20% reduction is usually achieved directly after the training course; over time, drivers usually return partially to their previous driving style, which reduces these benefits. However, long-term measurements of Eco-driving indicate that drivers that have completed these courses usually have a 5-10% improvement, compared with before the course. Larger fuel consumption reductions ( up to 10-15%) have been measured in countries such as Sweden and Switzerland.


What is Eco-driving?Substantial fuel wastes occur with aggressive driving. Time studies show that fast starts, weaving in and out of traffic, and accelerating to and from traffic signals do not save much time, and moreover, waste fuel and quickly wear out car components such as brakes and tires.


General tips

  • Start slowly, avoiding rapid acceleration.
  • Gear-up, use the highest gear possible, and lower the engine speed.
  • Aim to maintain a constant speed – pumping the accelerator sends more fuel to the engine.
  • Anticipate traffic conditions, and accelerate and decelerate smoothly – it is safer, uses less fuel, and reduces brake wear.
  • Drive at posted speed limits. Use cruise control on the highway.
  • Avoid idling - switching off engine for any stop of more than 60 seconds reduces fuel consumption and carbondioxide emissions.
  • Avoid excessive weight - on roof of car or boot causes additional fuel consumption.
  • Check the tire pressure monthly with cold tires.
  • Use air conditioning only when really necessary - fuel consumption can be 20% higher.
  • Replace air filters regularly - saving up to 10% fuel consumption.

For more information on Eco-driving, how to measure fuel consumption, and giving feedback to drivers, please check www.ecodrive.org


Monitoring and On Board Diagnostics (OBD): If driver behaviour is monitored by an on-board computer and fuel-saving behaviour is rewarded, the long-term effects will be greater. The following Eco-driving function indicates the expected fuel savings from practicing Eco-driving in conjunction with monitoring. The Actions-drivers sheet in the Inventory and Options (Tool 18) can give you an indication on how much you can save.

On Board Diagnostics (OBD) systems are compulsory on most vehicles in the US and Europe since mid-1990's. An OBD system checks vital engine functions, such as oil filters and ignition systems, and emission levels of the engine. The most advanced feature you normally see as a driver of the on board diagnostic system is the "check engine" lamp. With some extra equipment, an OBD system enables you to monitor fuel economy and driving patterns in an on board computer.

For more info on OBD >> www.obdii.com