Eco-Driving (also known as Green Driving) is a series of efficient driving practices that include avoiding unnecessary idling. It is relatively new to the United States. In Europe, and other countries where fuel prices are two to three times higher, eco-driving has for years been a well-established practice, as it can save motorists significant sums of money annually. Eco-driving also reduces climate change producing carbon emissions, conserves energy, improves air quality, and even makes you a safer driver.
Ford Motor Company, a pioneer of eco-driving in the U.S. and internationally, conducted tests showing that eco-driving can improve fuel economy by an average of 24 percent!
Many of today's vehicles come standard with eco-driving gauges or modes to help improve fuel economy.
SmartDrive EcoDriving Training Video - Work Trucks
CAA Fuel-Efficient Driving Tips - for teen and adult drivers
1. Slow down and watch speed. Drive 55-60 miles per hour instead of 65 to save fuel. The EPA estimates an up to 15 percent improvement in fuel economy by following this tip. Also, aim for a constant speed. Pumping the accelerator sends more fuel into the engine. Using cruise control whenever possible on the highway helps maintain speeds and conserve fuel. On California freeways during peak driving periods, avoid decreasing speeds too significantly to impede the flow of traffic.
2. Accelerate and brake smoothly. Accelerating smoothly from a stop and braking softly conserves fuel. Fast starts, weaving in and out of traffic and hard braking wastes fuel and wears out some of the car components, such as brakes and tires, more quickly. Maximize a vehicle's momentum by maintaining a safe distance between vehicles and anticipating traffic conditions to allow for more time to brake and accelerate gradually. If seeing a traffic signal turn red farther ahead, slow down gradually.
3. Avoid idling when parked. Warming up: In all but freezing temperatures, for any modern light-duty vehicle, start the engine and start driving gently to moderately. This is the most efficient way to warm up. If below freezing, limit stationary warm ups to 30 seconds as oil will fully circulate in an engine in this time, unless below 10º - and make sure windshield defrosting is adequate. If parked anywhere, idling for more than 10 seconds uses more fuel than shutting off and restarting. Avoid idling when using mobile devices while parked. NOTE: allowing a vehicle to idle while unattended in public is in violation of California's Stopping, Standing and Parking regulation; if you leave your vehicle, you must shut it off.
4. Check tires. Keep tires properly inflated to the recommended tire pressure. Under-inflated tires increase rolling resistance that can reduce fuel economy by 3-4 percent. They also wear more rapidly. Check the vehicle's door-post sticker for minimum cold tire inflation pressure.
5. Perform vehicle maintenance. Maintain proper engine tune-up to keep vehicles running efficiently. Keep the wheels aligned. Wheels that are fighting each other waste fuel. Replace air filters as recommended. Use a fuel with good detergent additives to keep the vehicle engine clean and performing efficiently. Always consult the Owner's Manual for proper maintenance.
6. Travel light. Unnecessary weight, such as unneeded items in the trunk and luggage on the roof rack, makes the engine work harder and consume more fuel.
7. Minimize use of heater and air conditioning. Use heating and air conditioning selectively to reduce the load on the engine. Decreasing air conditioning usage (AC works surprising well at 75-77º) when temperatures are above 80 degrees can help you save 10-15 percent of fuel. Use the vent setting as much as possible. Park in the shade to keep car cool and reduce the need for air conditioning.
8. Close windows at highway speeds. Don't drive with the windows open unless keeping speed under 50 mph. Driving with the windows open at highway speeds increases aerodynamic drag on the vehicle and lowers fuel economy.
9. Consolidate trips. Plan ahead to consolidate trips. This will enable the bypassing of congested routes, leading to less idling, fewer start-ups and less stop-and-go traffic.
10. Consider alternatives to single-occupancy vehicle traveling. Consider ridesharing, carpooling, public transportation riding a bike, or walking.