Eco Intelligence

IMG_12201Driving economically can work wonders on your weekly fuel bill, but how many of us have been taught how to do so effectively?

The most stressful drive many of us undertake on a typical week is the one onto a filling station forecourt.

That is where the familiar ‘ouch’ factor comes into play. Every trip to the pumps to top up the car seems ever more painfull to pinch the pocket, and make you long to stretch out a few more miles per gallon from that liquid gold gushing into the tank.

One obvious way to ratchet up the mileage you can eke out of a gallon would be to change cars for something smaller and more fuel efficient.

But that isn’t necessarily a practical option for many, and driving a diesel means already being amongst the more mpg-canny half of the motoring population anyway. So another route worth exploring is learning to modify your driving style to optimise fuel use.

Most drivers could easily see an improvement of up to ten per cent on their average fuel economy by making a series of judicious small changes to their daily driving habits. There are plenty of specialist courses that teach ways of tailoring driving behaviour to maximise the car’s economy.

Unfortunately most of them are aimed at the corporate market, and target company drivers, fleet users and high-mileage professionals. So finding economy driving tuition for an individual can be a bit more difficult.

IMG_11501One course available nationally is through the AA Driving School. It is for qualified drivers, and can be in your own car or theirs. Called Drive Smart, it does not deal solely with mpg maximisation, but aims at teaching ‘eco-friendly, safer driving techniques’.

This two-hour in-car course, which can be taken either as one session or split into two one-hour bites, costs £50 and includes an online workbook to be completed in advance. This lets the instructor identify areas to work on and concentrate the course to what you want to get out of it.

Another route to learning how to up your mpg is to find a good local driving school with qualified driving instructors and ask them to tailor an advanced driving session around economy driving techniques.

The outcome could be a triple bonus in helping to hone your skill behind the wheel and making you a safer driver as well as maximising your mpg.

IMG_12781As anyone who participates in competitive economy driving events – such as this autumn’s MPG Marathon – is already keenly aware, there is a direct correlation between advanced driving methods and fuel-maximising techniques.

Both are similarly reliant on reading the road ahead, planning your positioning for upcoming hazards, and constantly maintaining smooth and efficient use of the controls. Both depend on keen anticipation of developing road situations and continuously assessing how other drivers’ actions will affect your progress.

Logically, preparing for and taking an advanced driving test would bring similar benefits. There are three accessible to British drivers: the Institute of Advanced Motorists’ test, the DIAmond Advanced test of the Driving Instructors Association, and the RoSPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) advanced driving test

Sue Baker



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