Eco Driving

Eco-Driving measures introduced to the UK driving test from 2008 require that new drivers have to show that they can drive with fuel-efficiency as well as safely. Learner Drivers are expected to know the basics of eco-driving such as accelerating and braking less harshly and changing gears sooner. So, make yourself aware of safe eco driving and you will save wear and tear on your car, save fuel, and maybe even help save the planet.

When mooting the introduction of eco-driving-to the driving test-in 2006, the Transport Secretary Alistair Darling said, that candidates would not pass or fail on eco-driving, but that he wanted it to be “as much a part of learning to drive as the three-point turn or checking your mirrors. Small changes like this can make a big difference to the effect drivers have on the environment.” The move followed a similar initiative in the Netherlands, where the “New Driving” programme claims that eco-driving can potentially reduce their fuel consumption by up to a third.

Research in the UK has shown that eco driving can save between 5 and 17 percent of fuel – and also cut emissions. The Department of Transport estimates that if all drivers followed the tips, CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions from cars could be reduced by 8 per cent – or more than 5.5 Million tonnes of CO2 (carbon dioxide) a year.

Eco Driving Tips:

All you need to do is be aware of a few simple rules:

  • Eco driving means: look ahead, drive smoothly and avoid acceleration and heavy braking. This saves wear and tear on the car and makes for a more economic use of fuel.
  • Keep an eye on your gear-changing: When eco driving, revs should as far as possible kept at 2,500 rpm for petrol and 2,000 rpm for diesel vehicles.
  • Use the air conditioning sparingly.
  • When you start the engine, don’t keep it idling to heat up the engine. This wastes fuel and should not be necessary if you drive off gently and smoothly. Eco driving encourages basic good driving practice. It might mean you use your car a little bit less, but you save fuel on the way you drive as well as cutting out unnecessary journeys.
  • Remove anything from the vehicle which increases ‘drag’. Roof boxes and roof racks should only be in place when they are being used. And don’t use the boot as a permanent storage space! Eco driving is lighter driving.
  • When eco driving, consider sometimes avoiding short journeys, or link together several necessary journeys – cold engines use almost twice as much fuel as heated ones and catalytic converters can take up to five miles to become effective.
  • Before your journey: plan the route to avoid local works, congestion or losing your way. If you do hit a traffic jam – turn the engine off.
  • For eco driving, the most efficient speed for fuel consumption has been
  • And one of the most effective ways of eco driving: consider car-sharing for some journeys.

Consider buying an ‘eco friendly’ vehicle:

As with any purchase, do your homework. Keep eco driving at the front of your mind? Check to see if the car you want has a hybrid or diesel version; you can find information about the lowest CO2 emission cars on the Department of Transport’s website in the ‘ACT ON CO2’ section.

  • All new cars should have an environmental label which grades the car from A (the cleanest) to G (the most polluting).
  • If you want to find out about a particular car’s emissions, the Vehicle Certification Agency has a database of cars with their fuel economy and CO2 emissions data. It also has a section dealing with cars going back to 2000. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders has a database going back to 1997.
  • Manufacturers are now obliged to publish CO2 emission information by law in their adverts.


As eco driving becomes more popular and necessary, there are now a range of cars and fuels to help you:

Diesel vehicles have less CO2 emissions than their petrol equivalents, but they still produce harmful emissions. Choose one with a diesel particulate filter (DPF).

Hybrid vehicles have a conventional engine in addition to an electrical motor and battery which is recharged as you drive. They are available from several manufacturers and are becoming increasingly popular.

Electric vehicles produce no exhaust emissions and are exempt from road tax. Most have a range of 40-50 miles and a top speed of 50mph, so are perfect for urban driving. New designs are being worked on all the time. For eco driving, this has to be the most obvious choice.

Biodiesel vehicles use fuel produced from plants or less commonly waste cooking oil. The government has said that by 2010 all diesel sold in the UK will contain 5 percent biodiesels. All diesel cars can run on B5 (a blend of 5 per cent and 95 per cent conventional diesel). Using more than 5 percent biodiesel could invalidate your car’s warranty – so check with the manufacturer before trying it. And never use untreated plant oil as this could damage the engine.

Eco Driving doesn’t mean you have to compromise on your vehicle or your journeys. You keep the CO2 emissions down and you can feel good that with eco driving, you’re not creating unnecessary pollution.

Britannia Driving School’s Instructors are fully trained and experienced to deal with every aspect of safe eco-driving. Use their expertise. They love to be asked!