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The importance of eco driving

  • Tips to help you get the most out of a tank of fuel
  • Economical drivers are usually safer drivers too
  • Small changes to driving style can make a big difference

Written by Debbie Wood Published: 24 September 2013 Updated: 7 October 2013

Is your fleet manager urging you to improve your MPG performance?

With fuel prices continuing to put strain on all of our wallets, more and more companies are focussing on how they can get the most out of a tank of fuel, especially if they are the ones paying for it.

Car manufacturers are constantly developing new technology systems and engines to help improve fuel economy, but that is only half the battle.

Research suggests that adopting a smoother driving style and anticipating the road ahead can have a significant impact on average MPG figures. Regular maintenance checks are also important and carrying extra weight in your vehicle can add anything from two to 20 percent on your average fuel consumption.

There are some things we cannot control as drivers, like the traffic conditions, weather and terrain, but there are things we can do to our everyday driving habits that can make a real difference.

In this guide we take a closer look at the small changes people can make to their driving style to get the most out of a full tank.

Key Tips

  • Ask the question – Do you really need to drive? Some journeys are unavoidable but where possible choosing to use public transport, cycle or walk not only has a positive effect on the environment but also on your budget. Your company may also be promoting the use of teleconferencing and car sharing where possible.
  • Watch your speed   The faster you go, the more fuel you generally consume. Think about dropping your cruising speed a little if you travel on motorways and you will be suprised what a difference it makes.
  • Smooth driving – Avoiding harsh accelerating and braking can help to improve overall fuel consumption by around a third. The more you push the pedal, the more fuel you’ll use.
  • Try not to stop unnecessarily –  Stopping and starting constantly will use more fuel. If you slowly approach traffic lights, queues of traffic or crossings, you can read the road further ahead and maybe avoid having to stop which could help to save fuel.
  • Plan ahead – By planning your route well in advance you can avoid known congestion times and familiarise yourself with the route to avoid getting lost.
  • Slim down – Unnecessary weight like roof racks or heavy boot loads will increase fuel consumption.
  • Use appropriate gears – Using lower gears when travelling over 40mph will make the engine work harder and use more fuel, you should be changing up at around 2,000 rpm.
  • Don’t idle – Always set off as soon as possible, there is no need to wait for the engine to warm up. If your car doesn’t come with stop/start technology, when in traffic for extended periods it’s a good idea to switch the engine off to avoid using fuel unnecessarily.
  • Tyre pressures – Driving on under-inflated tyres increase fuel consumption. Regularly check that they are at the required pressure, especially before a long journey.
  • Windows versus air conditioning – If it is really hot outside, having the windows down is more economical at slow speeds. Only use the air conditioning at higher speeds and motorways as opened windows increase drag and consume extra fuel.
  • Turn off equipment – If you don’t need to have equipment on like windscreen demisters and heated seats, turn them off, electrical equipment doesn’t work for free – it always costs extra energy and money.


The main benefits

  • Safety – In most cases an economical driver is a safer one too. Anticipating the road ahead and keeping a sensible speed enables us to spot potential hazards quicker.
  • Cost savings – Not only will you save money on fuel, but if you carry out regular maintenance checks you can also reduce the risk of other elements in the car going wrong.
  • Kinder to the environment – Harsh acceleration and braking causes the engine to work harder and produce more CO2 emissions.
  • Keeping your fleet manager happy – If there are company initiatives aimed to promote eco driving, there may also be rewards for the best performers.