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I’ve always felt like I am a fairly confident driver, a safe driver, generally I err on the side of caution not speed. So I assumed I would therefore also be a pretty efficient driver too.
If I made a few tweaks towards driving more efficiently I could buy myself a holiday at the end of the year and reduce my car’s emissions hugely.
Chances are you could make some little tweaks and see changes too.
Recently Ageas Insurance challenged me to test my fuel efficiency while driving. It was a little embarrassing, as you can see in the video evidence they filmed, I will share the link to that below.
So, it appears there is a rather large window to improve my efficiency…
In my defence, it had been six months since I had driven a manual car, and it always takes me a day or so to fully accustom to gears again. Arriving to find the test car was manual, I immediately wanted to run for the hills. Not only was a film crew going to have to experience my rusty manual driving, but my driving was being scrutinised by a fuel efficiency expert too.
Drive One – 20 minutes as I usually drive.
Luckily the film crew and fuel efficiency expert, Steve Cocks from The Blue Lamp Trust, a community safety organisation in Hampshire, had a great sense of humour and really put me at ease.
However, the location was new to me, the gear changes felt all over the place – why am I still mixing up 1st and 3rd after over 20 years? – it was very stop-start. Let’s not even talk about how many times I managed to remember to move beyond 3rd gear.
Drive Two – 20 minutes using Steve’s tips
This time Steve encouraged me to think about the physics of the car, the more often I had to stop its huge bulk, the more energy would be needed to start again. We focussed on really looking and planning ahead and slowing down much sooner in response to red lights, slowed traffic or roundabouts ahead to hopefully avoid stopping completely.
Steve told me to always plan to stop, but too look for a space, and often I found really slowing meant I didn’t need to stop as much as I did the first time. Roundabouts felt fluid, just like they should be.
A side effect was that is really made me think about my driving. It was much more mindful. Rather than constantly stop-starting, getting to the next obstacle and pausing, it felt like a more fluid and focussed journey. It feels much safer driving this way, it focusses you much more and gives you greater control.
These are simple changes that you can make regardless of whether you drive and automatic or manual car. Just like keeping the boot free of extra weight helps too.
We also reduced my gear changes down when slowing. I have a habit of working my way back down the gears when Steve pointed out I didn’t need to do quite so many. And we focused on trying to remember to change up faster.
My improvements meant my fuel consumption went from 30.5mpg to 37mpg, basically improving my driving by 20%. Just think what an impact that could make on the environment and our finances if we all drove a little more efficiently. Steve also reminded me that it would be saving wear and tear on the break pads, tyres, the whole car.
Hop over to Ageas to see the videos and to find out how much that fuel efficiency translates to in money!
Thanks for having Ageas, I really enjoyed the day, it was an inspiring opportunity to reflect on my driving and make some changes for my purse and the planet.