Smart driving can save both fuel and lives

Drive smart, save gas

I wrote this article 14 years ago when gas prices rose by six cents a litre between leaving for work and driving home one day.

The information I shared then appears to be even more appropriate today, with both prices and climate change to consider. Drivers can choose to drive economically and that choice can also result in improved road safety.

The speed you choose and the way you maintain it has a significant effect on your gas mileage.

Driving at a steady speed— as opposed to accelerating hard on the green and braking just as hard for the next red—will save fuel and minimize wear and tear on your drive train and brakes.

Keeping with the flow of traffic rather than dodging from lane to lane to get ahead could save as much as 20%. That adds up to a considerable saving over time.

Increasing speed from 100 km/h to 120 km/h uses 20% more fuel. Reducing your speed from 100 km/h to 90 km/h can save you 10%. Aggressive city driving might save you 4% on the clock, but it can cost you up to 37% at the pump, and produce five times the threat to your lungs through increased emissions.

Tips for saving fuel and money:

• Buy an efficient vehicle

• Avoid idling

• Remove unnecessary weight in your vehicle

• Check and maintain your tire pressure at least monthly

• Remove roof and bicycle racks when they are not in use

• Use air conditioning only when really needed

• Shift your manual transmission to avoid high engine RPM

• Combine your trips

• Use alternative transportation methods

Natural Resources Canada offers a free on-line ecoDriving course via Stantec. The course takes about 30 minutes to complete and suggests that applying the techniques shown could save as much as 25% on your yearly fuel bill, regardless of the type of vehicle that your drive.

Anticipation of what the traffic around you is going to do is also an important key to efficient driving. It's also a critical skill for safe driving.

Instead of concentrating on getting there first, think about how aggressive behaviour can turn a $1.99.9 litre (of gasoline) into the equivalent of a $2.73.9 litre and put you and others at risk.

The bottom line? Think green, drive defensively, save money and save lives. Simple!

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

More Behind the Wheel articles

About the Author

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. He has been writing his column for most of the 20 years of his service in the RCMP.

The column was 'The Beat Goes On' in Fort St. John, 'Traffic Tips' in the South Okanagan and now 'Behind the Wheel' on Vancouver Island and here on Castanet.net.

Schewe retired from the force in January of 2006, but the column has become a habit, and continues.

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To learn more, visit DriveSmartBC

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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