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Get greener!

Whether you own a car or not, it doesn't take a genius to work out that driving isn't exactly environmentally friendly. A 1.8-litre car travelling 12,000 miles per year, on average, produces 3.51 tonnes of carbon dioxide.1 Cars produce less than 50% of the UK's total carbon monoxide emissions,2 affecting the quality of the air that we breathe.

Motorway intersection from the sky Here's how to limit your environmental impact when driving.

  • Switch off your engine when you're stationary for more than two minutes – this saves fuel.
  • Control your speed – it can cost up to 25% more in fuel to drive at 70mph compared to 50mph.3
  • Share your car journeys. The average British car has 1.2 passengers. If two car drivers shared a car they could reduce their overall pollution by 60%.4
  • Don't always take the car – 80% of journeys are under five miles and 33% are under one mile – both are easy to do without the car.5
  • Ensure you have the correct tyre pressure. Driving with under-inflated tyres increases fuel consumption by 1%.6
  • Think about the fuel you're using – a car with efficient fuel consumption is more environmentally friendly as it produces lower emissions than larger cars.
  • Consider diesel engines or alternative fuels such as liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and compressed natural gas (CNG) – all of which have lower CO2 emissions than standard petrol cars.
  • Consider driving a 'hybrid' vehicle – these combine a conventional engine with an electric motor and battery and offer reduced fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, with potentially lower emissions of all pollutants.
  • While neither petrol nor diesel vehicles are particularly environmentally friendly, diesel vehicles are environmentally less damaging as they have lower CO2 emissions.
  • Keep your car well maintained, as this will improve its performance and limit fuel consumption.

Topics to think about/discuss

  • With rocketing fuel prices and fears that oil supplies will dry up in 50 years – what will the cars of the future run on?
  • Why are four-wheel drives among the most controversial cars on the road in terms of the environment, congestion and pollution?
  • Eco-driving is to be made part of the driving test from 2008 – if it was part of the driving test now, could you come up with three ways to save fuel?

1 Vehicle Certification Agency, Department of Transport
2 National Atmospheric Emissions Industry (NAE)
3 Environmental Transport Association (ETA)
4 Ibid
5 Ibid
6 Ibid

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