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Eco friendly driving: Nine tips to reduce pollution

By Edited Jun 3, 2016 4 5

Tips for cleaner driving

Cars are one of the biggest polluters on the planet. They emit Carbon Dioxide in their exhaust fumes which can build up in the atmosphere. The theory of global warming suggests that it is these CO2 emissions that are contributing to climate change.  Cars also reduce air quality and lead to noise pollution.

Even though using one car may not make a significant impact on the environment, when there are millions of vehicles around the world all pumping out gases this can have a negative effect on the environment.

However, there are several ways in which driving styles can be altered to reduce the overall impact of motor vehicle emissions on the environment. Here are nine simple steps to cleaner and more economical driving.

Allow the car to warm up

Driving a car with a relatively cold engine uses more fuel and emits more pollution. This usually happens when somebody starts the ignition and immediately puts the gear stick into drive and pulls away. However, when the engine has warmed up it requires less energy to burn the fuel at the right temperature. To achieve this simply start the engine and allow it to remain 'idle' for a minute or two. This uses hardly any gas because the car is not moving. There will be much less strain on the engine, reducing the need for new parts. Especially do this in the winter when the engines are very cold and before long journeys. 
Avoid short journeys

Many people use their vehicles for short journeys to the shops, the local club or to a friend's house. However, these trips might only take ten minutes to walk. By the time the car has started and driven through traffic it probably would have been quicker to walk. Plus, the exercise is good for the body. 
Accelerate slowly

From pulling off the driveway, to starting up at traffic lights, there are many times when cars need to accelerate. However, there are far too many people who push their 'pedal to the metal' and speed away. Now only in this very dangerous, anybody who has been sitting behind one of these cars will know that there is a huge cloud of smoke that comes from the exhaust which adds to the levels of CO2 in the environment. A far simpler way to accelerate that uses less fuel and puts less strain on the engine is to slowly push the accelerator allowing the revs to increase gradually.
Reduce speed slowly

The same people who accelerate suddenly are usually those that speed as fast as they can only to hit traffic again a few moments later. They then have to brake sharply. This pumps out more fumes into the environment. The added wear and tear on car body parts means that new goods will be required more regularly than a sensible driver will need replacements. The cost of making and shipping the car parts also has a detrimental effect on the environment.
Use motorways or freeways instead of urban roads

One of the common misconceptions among many drivers is that it is more environmentally friendly to drive through the city. Freeways and motorways are the 'dirty' homes of gas guzzlers that send black fog up into the ozone layer, they believe. In fact, the reverse is true. Check any car statistics and it's clear that freeway journeys use much less fuel than urban driving in the city. This is because on a straight road with a high speed limit there is normally fewer vehicles, which allows them to cruise along in a high gear at a steady speed with less braking, turning, acceleration and deceleration. Whereas in the city driving often involves stopping and starting. Consider the environment when planning a journey and where possible try to take the route with roads that have a higher speed limit, will be straighter and clearer. 

Credit: en.wikipedia.org

Half-fill the tank

It is tempting to fill right to the top of the tank at a gas station. After all, it means that you won't have to return as often. However, driving with a full tank actually adds to the overall weight of the car. This means that the engine has to work harder by burning more fuel, once again adding to the CO2 emissions in the atmosphere. If there was any doubt about this point, just look at Formula One drivers. When they have a pt stop it is very rare for the tanks to be filled to the top. This would put them at a weight disadvantage. Instead, the opt for two or three pit-stops a race.

Keep the speed below 110kmh (70mph)

Drving at 130 kmh (80mph) uses 30 per cent more fuel than driving at  110kmh (70mph). That's an incredible statistic and given the price of fuel at the moment it's surprising to see just how many people are driving at high speeds. In general, most cars achieve maximum fuel efficiency when traveling at speeds of 30-50 miles an hour. Above 88 kmh (55mph), fuel consumption goes up as much as 15 per cent for every additional 16kmh (10mph).  On a wider lever, the increased amount of fuel being used by drivers adds to the overall global demand for oil. This means that more wells, like those in Nigeria that have caused several disasters, are built. This often leaves the landscape scarred and forces local people from their communities. 
Use a manual gearbox

Most cars in the U.S. have an automatic gearbox whiles many in Europe use manual gearboxes. There are however, a large proportion of high-end and luxury cars in the UK that use automatic gearboxes. Unfortunately they use more gas. This is because the energy to change gear has to come from somewhere. When gears are changed manually this energy comes from the driver moving their arm. But in automatic vehicles it will come from the fuel tank, eating up more of the precious natural reserve.

Change to diesel

There are two common types of fuel available: petrol and diesel. The majority of vehicles use petrol. But it is in fact diesel that is far more economical and in some countries, such as France, it is actually cheaper. For example, a typical diesel car will drive on average 80 km (50 miles) per gallon. Compare this to petrol which will typically return around 55 km (35 miles) per gallon and it's clear to see why those who drive diesel cars speak so highly of them. Diesel is also much greener and does not add as much to global warming as petrol does. A diesel car is perfect for people who do long journeys.



Feb 15, 2012 12:14pm
Thanks for the tips on cleaner driving. I have to admit I'm one of the cold engine offenders when I don't allow enough time for a proper warm up. I'll work on correcting this behavior! Wish we could all ride our cruiser bikes to work! :)
Feb 15, 2012 4:29pm
I'm currently living in Mexico in the city of Torreon, the 4th wealthiest city in the country but I'll say, if they practiced just one of those things here the pollution problem would improve
Feb 16, 2012 9:08pm
Eco friendly driving is an oxymoron. Try walking.
Mar 27, 2012 8:24pm
I never knew about some of these until I read them here. Thanks for sharing!
May 3, 2012 9:57pm
Around half people in china are riding bikes! The world should do the same!
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