Since 2007 ECODRIVEN promotes a set of rules that help private and business drivers to improve their driving behaviour called Eco-drive. Contemporary cars are inefficient when they work in a partial load - that is, if their potential power is not fully used. So when driving in a fuel efficient manner, partial loads are to be avoided. The features of fuel efficient driving are twofold. One part of it is the way of driving itself. The other part includes regular checks of the tire pressure, reducing the carried weight, etc.
On the street, Eco-drivers
- shift to a higher gear early and shift down late
- anticipate the traffic to avoid sudden changes of speed
- decelerate smoothly with engaged gear
No new concept, but a new method
This advice may not be new to everyone. The concept of fuel efficient driving has been around since the early nineties, and environmentally aware people have often heard about the previous measures. But knowing is not equivalent to doing, as different studies have shown. Practical experience is needed. ECODRIVEN supports two methods to get to the latter. The first approach is to give driving lessons to private drivers, to employees, truck and bus drivers and most importantly to new drivers as a part of their training. These lessons can take just some hours, with two short test drives assisted by an eco-drive trainer. The first drive takes place before, the second one after the briefing on eco-drive methods. The differences in fuel use and other parameters like comfort are registered. It can also be a whole day with several theoretical lessons and more test drives.
Studies showed that persons who absolved this kind of training incorporate the rules into their driving behaviour at a long term scale. Often they drive even more fuel efficient after a year than right after getting the instructions. But this kind of training is expensive and doesn't reach out to a sufficient part of the population. So ECODRIVEN promotes training in simulators. Although users of this tool complain that the experience is far from being authentic, the overall results are good. Drivers who tried out eco-driving methods on the screen tend to apply their experiences into the real world.
That does not only help the environment and the wallet of the drivers. The city of Zurich, for example, promotes the anticipatory behaviour when driving especially in residential areas, as it reduces the noise on the streets. Streets full of eco-drivers would also be much safer and their passengers happier, as the comfort rises when you don't decelerate abruptly.
Of course, shifting gears at the right time only applies to cars with manual transmission. At this point the campaign is clearly a European construct: on this continent most people drive manual. However, experts expect a substantial increase for automatic transmission in Europe within the next years.
Nevertheless, eco-driving should also be promoted in other countries as it comprises so much more than only shifting behaviour. But remember, even if you are the most skilled eco-driver, your car will still not keep up with public transport in terms of the overall energy saved and the reduced CO2 emission.