Eco-driving, the poor relative of energy saving

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Drive slower, anticipate, keep your distance… a few common sense practices on the road are enough to save fuel and pollute less.

Drive more slowly, anticipate braking, but above all don’t tailgate trucks on the highway: a few common sense practices are enough on the road to save fuel and pollute less.

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While oil is expensive and the planet is burning, it is a matter of pushing the button less, for example, going from 120 km/h to 110 on the highway or from 90 to 80 on the national highway.

It is also necessary to change gear at the right time, turn off the engine when it is stopped, remove the roof boxes or not abuse the air conditioning, stresses Guillaume Sabiron, from the French Institute of Petroleum-New Energies (Ifpen).

Up to -40% consumption

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While private cars account for 12% of transport-related pollution in the European Union, eco-driving can immediately reduce fuel consumption by between 6 and 40%, while limiting greenhouse gas emissions and the number of accidents.

Most of these techniques also extend the range of hybrid and electric cars.

On the contrary, “aggressive driving (rapid acceleration and sudden braking) increases consumption by 30 to 40%”, but it will also wear out tires and brakes, emphasizes Stacy Davis, from the American laboratory in Oak Ridge, which tests these techniques. . .

Formalized since the first oil shocks in the 1970s, the principles of eco-driving have only recently begun to spread widely.

On the “” site, launched in 2000, the United States Environmental Agency (EPA) brings together dozens of up-to-date advice, as does Ademe in France, or the British Ministry of Transport.

In France, these principles are taught when you pass your driving license and allow you to get a bonus point on the test.


But this self-discipline struggles to assert itself on the road, where the goal is often to get to your destination as quickly as possible. Amid the rise in gasoline prices, in February 2022, less than a quarter of French motorists thought of driving more slowly to consume less, according to an Ifop survey for the Odopass application.

“I had a sportier drive, now I look at my tachometer,” Damien, 42, said Friday at the Auchan service station in Avallon (Yonne). This professor also tries to “maximize the trips” and “inflate the tires a little more”.

“My husband is a driver and the truth is, they haven’t trained me! But I drive slowly, ”explained him at the pump next door Christine, 48. Transport companies have understood that they could save tens of thousands of liters of diesel. Many drivers around the world have received training since the 2010s.

“It’s up to the government to take action!” Dominique, 59, launched for his part. “You just have to drive less.”

False good ideas pollute the debate. Over-inflating tires, turning off the engine on a downgrade, sticking to trucks on the road, adding electronic accessories – these tips from fans of “hypermiling” (“hypermiling”) are sometimes counterproductive and often dangerous.

Change car?

Training is also available for individuals. But it is also necessary to study what can hinder motorists in eco-driving, emphasizes the British researcher in psychology Craig K. Allison, associated with other academics.

In a study published at the beginning of 2022, the simulator tests showed unmotivated motorists, a priori due to the instructions to follow and the route a little slower, but showing better self-esteem at the end of the exercise.

These researchers urge manufacturers to encourage drivers to adopt more measured driving, sometimes with video game-inspired eco-driving scores.

According to the EPA, new cars have never been this fuel efficient, even though they have gotten significantly heavier in recent decades. Switching to hybrid (gasoline or diesel) or electric also allows less pollution, especially in the city.

But first it is about driving a well-maintained vehicle adapted to its uses: favor small engines and aerodynamic shapes, avoiding sports cars and off-road SUVs.

And it is better to “change mobility than car”, underlines Guillaume Sabiron in Ifpen. If possible, “working from home one day or riding a bike will have a much bigger impact.”

Author: LT with AFP
Source: BFM TV

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