Learning to drive – without a jack-rabbit in sight

I am teaching one of my children to drive.  (And yes, I am still here and sane!)

This is a challenge, but bit by bit they are understanding how much they have to do, how complex the task is.

One of the things I am teaching them is that a good driver constantly looks around them.  They are always scanning their environment to see where other vehicles are, what other drivers are doing, looking out for things that might affect them and their driving…so that they can drive defensively.  If you drive a car, you will know this already.

But do you know about using this technique to drive smoothly and reduce fuel consumption?  It can help you drive a lot more sustainably.

Make smooth, gradual starts and stops

My learner driver is finally starting to look well ahead.  They now know to keep an eye out for red lights up ahead, be they traffic lights or brake lights.

  • When you see a red light, take your foot off the accelerator.  That will allow the car to slow down naturally, instead of wasting fuel and brake wear by continuing to accelerate and then braking hard.
  • If necessary, you brake, preferably gently – again to save brake wear.

By reducing your speed, you can time your arrival into a green light…and then you can make use of your car’s momentum to get off to a rolling start.

And of course, when you accelerate you do so gently…instead of accelerating hard.

Stop-start city driving is hard on cars. It is not a sustainable form of transport.  But sometimes it’s necessary.  And if you have to drive, you can use a lot less fuel – and dramatically reduce wear on your engine, clutch, transmission, brakes and tyres – by adopting a smooth, steady driving style.  And that will also help reduce your transportation costs.

Aggressive driving is costly – to the environment, your hip pocket and others

My teen is also learning that aggressive driving (speeding, rapid acceleration and braking) wastes fuel. That’s because fuel is consumed more quickly during hard acceleration and at higher speeds than if you are gentle with the accelerator. Did you know that it can dramatically lower your fuel consumption…by up to 33% at highway speeds and by 5% around town?  Over the life of the car, the savings – in both pollution and money – will add up.

And, of course, smooth, sensible driving is also safer for you and others…so you may save more than money, greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution.

If you don’t already do so, keep a record your fuel consumption (if you have a car, of course!). See what a difference changing your driving attitude – and leaving the car at home for short trips – makes.  Post your results in the Reply box below.

Till next time…be gentle to yourself and our world!

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