Safe and Fuel Efficient Driving
It is important that the vehicle we are driving is taken care of throughout its life, whether we are driving our own vehicle, fleet vehicle, company vehicle or a hire vehicle. Although at the time a driver may not be aware that anything is wrong, if they continue to not look after the vehicle it will, after a period of time, cost either money or safety.
The way we drive and the condition of our vehicle has an impact on the amount of fuel we use. Safe and efficient driving could mean;
- Less injuries and fatalities on our roads,
- Less incidents or damage to our vehicles,
- Less unproductive downtime for vehicle repairs, and
- The potential for reduced insurance premiums.
Fuel efficiency means:
Where operators actively monitor and manage the fuel used by vehicles a fleet’s fuel consumption can typically be reduced by 10%, with an equivalent cost saving. Use of safe and fuel-efficient driving techniques as part of fuel management will make a major contribution to;
- Lower costs (fuel saving),
- Reduced emissions, and
- Improved environmental performance.
Here are a few tips to help you save fuel and money.
- When first starting the engine, wait approximately 15-30 seconds before driving.
This will allow the engine oil to lubricate all of the engines moving parts before it is placed under load.
- Do not drive with your foot above or resting on the clutch or brake pedal.
This will mean that the clutch or brake is partly engaged and in time they will fade or may fail, especially the brakes, if they heat up causing the brake to fade and not stop the vehicle.
- Ensure that the vehicle is moving before you turn the steering wheel.
To turn the steering wheel while the vehicle is stationary will increase the stain and wear on the steering linkages.
- Ease of the pressure on the brake pedal just before the vehicle comes to a complete stop.
This will allow the suspension to recover and provide a smooth and comfortable stop.
- Check tyre pressures regularly, ideally once a fortnight.
- Inflate your vehicle’s tyres to the highest pressure recommended by the manufacture and make sure your wheels are properly aligned.
- Lower tyre pressures will cause the tyre to overheat, leading to premature failure
- Always ensure that the tyres have good amount of tread. Travelling at 50kph with bald tyres can take additional 25metres to stop on wet roads.
- Looking after your tyres will not only reduce your fuel consumption it will also extend tyre life and improve handling.
- Correctly inflated tyres are safer and last longer, and they also reduce the amount of energy required to keep the vehicle rolling. A tyre that is under inflated by one psi can reduce fuel efficiency by as much as three percent. Tyres life deceases by 10% for every 10% the tyre is under inflated.
- Do not forget the spare tyre, as it will loss tyre pressure over time.
- Drive smoothly and never let the engine rev up excessively when out of gear.
- Aggressive driving can use as much as a third more fuel compared to conservative driving. Avoid accelerating or braking too hard, and try to keep the steering action as smooth as possible.
- Stop/start driving is much less efficient and more polluting than driving at a constant speed. Avoid travelling during peak-hours and on congested roads whenever possible.
- Take it easy on the accelerator – more revs equals more fuel used. Drive at a good distance from the car in front so you can anticipate and travel with the flow of traffic. This avoids unnecessary acceleration and frequent repetitive braking that ends up wasting fuel. It’s also far safer. If you see traffic stoppages ahead, first take your foot off the accelerator and let the engine’s drop in power slow the vehicle,particularly by also changing to a lower gear. Don’t continue to drive at the same speed and applying the brakes at the last minute. Getting back to cruising speed while the car is still moving uses far less fuel than stopping and then starting again.
- Over-revving the engine out of gear may take the engine speed over the maximum permitted and could damage the engine.
- Do not change gears when the vehicle is travelling in the opposite direction to the gear being selected, including automatic vehicles.This can cause the damage to the gearbox.
- Always drive in the correct gear
- Driving in a gear lower than youneed wastes fuel, and letting the engine labour in top gear on hills and corners is also wasteful.
In a manual vehicle, change up gears as soon as the car is comfortable with the higher gear but without accelerating harder than necessary. The higher the gear, the lower the engine speed.
- This can improve fuel efficiency, so use the highest gear appropriate, without causing the engine to labour at an ultra-low rpm
- Automatic transmissions will shift up more quickly and smoothly if you ease back slightly on the accelerator once the car gathers momentum. Avoid the use of power options which drop the car into a lower gear and therefore use more fuel
- Do not let the engine to labour by allowing the vehicle to vibrate under load.
This will cause a great deal of damage to the engine bearings. Also, the engine will lack power and not respond to additional acceleration.
- Tune and Service the Engine
A well tuned engine can improve fuel economy by up to four percent. Change the oil and always follow the car manufacturer’s recommendation on servicing.
- Avoid Carrying Excess Weight
For every extra 45 kilograms (100 pounds) carried in a vehicle, the fuel efficiency can drop by two percent, so keep the trunk and rear seat clear of any unnecessary items that just add weight to the vehicle.
- Take the Roof Rack Off
If the roof rack or roof bars are not being used then remove them. They adversely affect the aerodynamic efficiency of the vehicle and create drag, reducing fuel economy by as much as five percent.
- Use the Correct Engine Oil
Always use the recommended grade of motor oil. Using the manufacturer’s recommended lubricant can improve fuel efficiency by one or two percent. Higher quality motor oils can also help your engine operate more efficiently.
- Avoid Excess Idling
Idling gets a vehicle nowhere but still burns fuel. Turn the engine off when you’re in a queue, or waiting for someone, until you need to drive.
- Avoid High Speeds
The faster you travel, the more wind resistance you’ll encounter and the more fuel your vehicle will consume just to maintain speed. Driving just 8 km/h over the speed limit can affect fuel economy by up to 23 percent.
- Maintain the Distance (Crash Avoidance Space)
Leaving a sensible distance between your car and the vehicle in front gives the driver ample time to anticipate obstacles and to brake evenly.
- Use Air Conditioning Sparingly
Air conditioning puts added strain on the engine and uses additional fuel when operating, so limit its use to particularly hot days. On temperate days, use the fan instead of air conditioning.
- Check the Air Filter
The air filter keeps impurities from damaging your engine. Replacing a clogged air filter can improve fuel economy by as much as 10 percent while helping to protect your engine.
- Avoid Rush Hour or Traffic Jam Hotspots
If you can travel outside of peak times and avoid known areas of heavy traffic, you’ll spend less time stuck in queues and slow-moving traffic, thus consuming less fuel.
- Conserve Momentum
Think ahead when driving. For example, slow down early to let red traffic lights change to green, rather than stopping completely. Also, speed up a little before reaching the start of a hill and then allow the vehicle’s momentum to carry the vehicle up the hill without working the engine harder.
- Keep Calm
When drivers are not calm, they are more likely to make judgement errors. Fuel efficiency is all about smoothness. Judgement and keeping calm is absolutely crucial to achieving fuel economy.
- Use Handbrakes on Slopes
Some motorists do not use the handbrake when stopping their vehicle on a slope. Instead, they either partially disengage the clutch (on manual transmission vehicles), or use the accelerator (on automatic vehicles), to keep the vehicles from rolling back. Both actions use fuel unnecessarily.
- Do not operate the windscreen wipers on dry glass.
The dirt, dust and insects on a dry glass will damage the rubber wiper blades.