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What is smarter driving?

We all know that road vehicles burn fuel and money, but did you know that by making some simple changes to the way you drive you can reduce the amount of fuel your car consumes?

Road transport in the UK is the third largest source of greenhouse gases and accounts for 20% of the UK's total carbon emissions. Air pollution, climate change and acid rain are just some of the problems caused by carbon emissions. Avoiding the use of your car altogether is a big ask, but we can do our bit to limit the amount of carbon we emit.

Smarter driving is about reducing fuel use and thinking differently about how and when you use a car.  Becoming fuel efficient will not only reduce your carbon footprint, but will also save you money.

How much is your car really costing you?

Many people think about the cost of driving as the cost of fuel, but it’s really much more than that. In addition to the upfront cost of your car, you need to think about insurance, vehicle tax, servicing, general maintenance and parking charges. Every journey you make with your car costs you money – probably more than you think.


This video is helpful in demonstrating smarter driving [external link].

If you want to cut the cost of driving and become more fuel efficient then read our helpful tips below.

Consider doing it differently

Replace some of your car journeys with a different method of transport:

  • Can you swap short car journeys with a walk instead? This is not only free, but good for your general health and fitness too.
  • Do you live close to a bus stop or train station? If so, then why not try replacing longer journeys with public transport? Seasonal tickets provide a cost effective method of transport for regular users.

Avoid short journeys

A cold engine uses twice as much fuel and catalytic converters can take up to 5 miles to become effective. Our bodies take a lot less time to warm up. By replacing short trips with a walk instead you can get some of your recommended 30 minutes of activity a day and save some money on fuel.

Trip chaining

This is the most effective way of reducing your environmental impact without actually changing the way you drive. It’s simple: think ahead and combine several jobs into one trip. On your way to pick up the kids, you could stop off in town to pick up some food for dinner and pop to the hairdressers. By doing more in one trip you reduce the distance travelled, which saves you time, money and fuel.

Try different driving techniques

By adopting some simple driving techniques below, you can reduce your fuel consumption dramatically.

Here is another video that can save you money driving smarter [external link]

  • Drive smoothly – Heavy breaking and pulling away too fast uses up to 60% more fuel. Accelerate and decelerate slowly to conserve your fuel.
  • Anticipate traffic flow – Look ahead and keep sufficient distance from the vehicle in front to avoid sudden breaking.
  • Drive at an appropriate speed – Driving at 50 mph instead of 70 mph can improve fuel economy by 25% (
  • Avoid overtaking – By accelerating quickly to overtake you often gain a little time, but you also use up more fuel in doing so.
  • Shift up as soon as possible – By avoiding high revs you can drive more economically. For petrol/LPG cars, change up a gear before 2,500 RPM and for diesel cars before 2000 RPM. Be prepared to skip gears to suit your speed and terrain.
  • Don’t idle – Switch off your engine if you’re stationary for more than a minute or two. Sitting idle with your engine burning wastes fuel, money and it pollutes the air.

Maintain the condition of your car

Have your vehicle serviced regularly; well-maintained cars tend to run more efficiently. Remember to check tyre pressure too as under inflated tyres are dangerous and can increase fuel consumption by 40%.

Remove unnecessary baggage

Remove clutter from your boot; take the roof rack off and get rid of any other unnecessary items from your car. Extra weight on the car increases air resistance which increases the amount of fuel you consume.

For information on how to become an even smarter driver, read about the benefits of car sharing.

Car sharing

Single occupancy car travel (one person driving in a vehicle alone) is often the most expensive way to travel.

Car sharing is when two or more people share a car and travel together.

By car sharing, you could:

Save money

Whether you are the driver or the passenger, car sharing could save you money. By splitting the cost of petrol you can cut your fuel bill in half. Depending on the length of the journey, the cost of petrol is likely to be less than the cost of public transport for the same journey.

Benefit from social interaction

Driving alone is not much fun. By sharing the trip with someone else you can share stories, experiences and jokes. It provides an opportunity to maintain relationships with family and friends, but also to build new relationships with colleagues and neighbours.

Read about Emma and Kerry's car sharing story here.

Reduce your stress levels

People that commute by single occupancy car travel demonstrate higher levels of stress and lower morale. What better reason to share the journey with someone else? Many people involved in car sharing often have an informal rota so that they can share the responsibility of driving. This means that you can sit back and relax on the days that you are not the designated driver.

Reduce congestion

By car sharing with another driver, you are reducing the amount of cars on the road, which contributes to quieter, safer roads for everyone else.

Help the environment

By getting involved in a car sharing scheme, you are doing your bit to minimise the noise, congestion and pollution caused by the number of cars on our roads. 

Find someone to car share with:

FAXI [external link] Faxi allows people to create and join car sharing groups to identify, communicate and share journeys with other people who have similar journeys.  Share your commute with other people making the same journey every day.

Liftshare [external link] Need to get to a festival, event or work? Simply run a search on your journey and find others going your way. Or, offer a lift so others can find you!

Sign up to the challenge!

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