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Eco Driving

Eco style of driving is recognised as a proven contributory factor in improving road safety whist also reducing fuel consumption and emissions. 

By making a few minor changes to your driving habits could save cash and help the environment. 

As fuel prices are continually rise due to government hikes in fuel duty or increases in the price of crude oil, the driver needs to take measures to reduce fuel consumption and save pounds from the annual fuel bill. 

Hazard Perception

One of the principle factors in increasing road safety is, 'planning ahead', so that you are prepared in advance for the hazards ahead.  By improving your hazard perception skills you can reduce the need to make unnecessary gear changes and reduce braking. 

Keeping to the style is estimated to save the average driver, who racks up around 12,000 miles a year, between £100 and £200 annually.  Motorists driving around 30,000 miles a year are said to save £500. 

By reading what was going on ahead allows you to anticipate problems and take the appropriate action, such as, easing off the accelerator or earlier braking. 

For example, leave a safe gap from the vehicle ahead so that if you see other cars brake lights coming on, ease off the accelerator, and do the same if you're approaching a junction. 

Note that it may still be necessary to show your brake lights to advise those behind that you are slowing. 

Keeping the car moving prevents waste, because stopping and starting require extra fuel. 

When you do need to move off from stationary, avoid over revving and likewise if you are likely to be stationary more than a few minutes be prepared to switch off the engine. 

Speed

Keeping to the speed limits is advised but speed is always based on conditions.  When travelling at 70mph you should be aware that you use 30 percent more fuel than when driving at 50mph, however, it's important to note that travelling to slowly may inconvenience other road users and could be dangerous. 

For most cars, between 50 - 60mph is the most fuel-efficient speed.  It is made even more efficient if the driver avoids constant and unnecessary acceleration. 

Try to use the accelerator smoothly and progressively.  When appropriate take your foot off the accelerator and allow the momentum of the car to take you forward. 

This is particularly relevant when travelling downhill as you will avoid using unburnt fuel without any loss of car control.  Driving smoothly can reduce fuel consumption by about 15% as well as reducing wear and tear on your vehicle. 

Gear selection

Smooth, easy gear changes are essential to good driving.  By taking your time and thinking ahead will allow you the time to assess and decide on the appropriate gear choice. 

Every gear change lets off a bit of fuel, so consider using the 'block gear changing method'. 

Missing out gears at the correct time will give you more time to concentrate on the road ahead and allow you to keep both hands on the steering wheel for longer. 

How many gears to miss out will depend on your vehicle and traffic conditions but do appreciate the flexibility of modern engines and the efficiency of braking systems and gearboxes. 

The most common examples are changing from fifth to third or third to first.  Through progressive braking, it is possible to go from fifth to first.  This may be when approaching a set of traffic lights when you can clearly see that you will need to come to a complete stop. 

Changing gear as soon as possible is another fuel-saver.  Changing gears when an engine speed is about 2,000rpm in a diesel car, or 2,500rpm in petrol, is the most efficient time. 

It will take time for the experienced driver to adjust to these techniques but for those drivers sill learning, the methods should be instilled from an early lesson.  Although it will take time and discipline to change your habits, I would suggest that less frequent trips to the filling station will be made, and you'll have a few extra pounds in your pocket.