How to make your drive more eco-friendly< Back to Blog

It’s estimated that, across the world, there are over 1 billion cars on our roads.

With that number increasing all the time and the transport sector as a whole taking its place as the fastest contributor to climate emissions, it’s obvious that something has to change.

The ideal solution might well be a commitment from more people to give up their wheels, however the reality is that most people are still unwilling (or sometimes in positions where they are unable) to do this.

If you’re among this group of people, perhaps a construction worker who has to drive every day for work purposes, the good news is there are a few simple habits you can adopt in order to make your drive eco-friendlier. The best news is that, while helping you to reduce the emissions your vehicle generates, these are all habits which will save money too!

1. Cut idle time

Idling, the act of leaving a vehicle’s engine running while it is stationary, has been connected to rising fuel emissions and air pollution in our towns and cities.

The Royal College of Physicians estimates that, in the UK, some 40,000 deaths each year can be linked to air pollution, with engine idling contributing to this. Despite this, some people still question which is worse – idling or stop-starting the engine.

Providing the scientific answer to that question, Transportation Systems Analyst, Linda Gaines says: “Some drivers think that idling uses less fuel than restarting, but our research has found that drivers save fuel and reduce emissions by shutting down for stops as brief as 10 seconds. That being said, we don’t recommend turning your car on and off in stop-and-go traffic; driving safely means being able to respond quickly to traffic conditions.”

Here at Sheriff Construction, we recently audited our entire vehicle fleet using the ‘Trackitnow’ monitoring system and found that, as well as the environmental impact, idle time was costing our company an average of £5 per day, per car.

While traffic situations played their part, often the idle time was simply happening because a car or van was waiting to pick up workers in the morning or drop them off at the end of the day. With eight cars on the road six days a week, that waiting time represents a cost of around £12,000 per year to our company.

To address this problem, we delivered ‘eco-friendly driving’ training to all our drivers over the summer and are continuing to monitor driving habits to ensure the theory is being properly put into practice.

Listen to what the RAC advise about cutting idling:

  • Consider how long you are going to be stationary in traffic. The RAC recommends that motorists turn off their engines if they think they are not going to move for around two minutes.
  • Many modern vehicles have ‘stop-start’ systems fitted that automatically switch off the engine when the vehicle is stationary and restart it as soon as the accelerator is pressed. Manufacturers allow this feature to be manually switched off, however we urge motorists not to do this. There is no risk to your vehicle in allowing this feature to be left on.
  • For vehicles without ‘stop-start’ it’s fine to turn off your engine, but you should try to avoid doing this repeatedly in a short space of time. In addition, older vehicles (around eight years old) and vehicles with older batteries (around five years old) may struggle if they are started too often in a short space of time.

2. Slow down early

In city environments, your vehicle is likely to go through more stop-start motions than it would on a motorway or other faster road, making it run in a less fuel-efficient manner.

To reduce fuel consumption, one tip is to avoid keeping your foot on the gas and braking at the last minute. Instead, ease off the gas early so that you eventually come to a lighter stop. The simple act of taking your foot off the gas will help to save a little fuel while also making your driving safer (should a hazard appear, you and any passengers will greatly benefit from your habit of slowing down early).

3. Get in gear

Ensuring you use the correct gear for your speed is another means of saving fuel. Higher gears usually consume less fuel so, if you’re driving a manual car, be sure to shift up a gear whenever it’s sensible to do so. Most engines perform best at 2000 – 2500 revolutions per minute (RPM) so try to maintain this level if you can.

4. Ditch the clutter

This one’s not exactly rocket science – the heavier your car is, the more power it will need to run and consequently it will consume more fuel. So, take a good look at your vehicle (inside and out), then remove anything that adds extra weight and is not essential. Do you have a roof rack that never gets used? Is the boot full of old tools that you rarely need on the job? Is there a stack of books lying on the back seat? Remove that clutter!

5. Vehicle tracking

With a vehicle tracking system, the user can map the routes they have taken and, over time, this allows them to use the data to create shorter or faster routes.

This simply involves installing a small GPS transmitter in the vehicle and, for businesses whose employees need to repeatedly be on the road, this can be a great way of reducing the distance travelled and thereby the company’s carbon footprint.

6. Don’t speed

We all know that killing our speed is the responsible thing to do in terms of road safety but did you know that it’s also a great tactic for minimising your environmental impact? Driving too fast can actually be detrimental to a car’s fuel efficiency. The fact is that most cars have a motorway speed range that feels the most comfortable (and it’s not 80 or 90 miles per hour!) so try to find this range and stick to it. If you’re unsure, it’s worth noting that the majority of cars perform best at around 55 – 65 miles per hour.

Save fuel, save money, save the future!

As well as promoting these eco-friendly practices through training and informal reminders, Sheriff Construction has a driving policy which sets out the responsibilities of anyone who drives during the course of our company’s business. That includes carrying out regular inspections to ensure vehicles are always roadworthy, only using vehicles on authorised journeys (avoiding unnecessary mileage) and living up to an expectation that due consideration will be given to environmental emissions at all times.

When carrying out our most recent training on this subject, we reminded our team of the impact that human behaviour is having on climate change and what that really means for our planet and future generations. As a family-oriented business, we believe that, for the sake of our children’s future, we need to do more to minimise emissions and actively change any situation where our work might add to the problem. Sheriff Construction is committed to eco-friendly driving practices. Are you?


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