Human Factors – Exploring Eco-Driving to Reduce Fuel Use

Transport is the second highest source of greenhouse gases in the EU, and reducing this level of emissions is a key objective of the G-Active project. Whilst the quickest way to reduce transport related emissions is to not take car journeys, we can also significantly reduce emissions by altering driving style. By adopting eco-driving behaviours it has been estimated that the average driver can save approximately 20% of their fuel costs and dramatically cut fuel costs. 

Eco-driving is characterised by behaviours such as modest acceleration, early gear changes, limiting the engine to approximately 2,500 revolutions per minute (RPM), anticipating traffic flow to minimise breaking, driving below the speed limit, and limiting unnecessary idling. Successful eco-driving also includes non-driving behaviours, for example, ensuring that the car is well serviced, ensuring tyres are adequately inflated and making efficient route selection.

The adoption of eco-driving behaviours is advantageous in that it is an emission reduction technique that is available to all drivers, within all situations. Whilst replacing older vehicles, typically characterised by inefficient internal combustion engines, with more technologically capable and efficient drivetrains is desirable, for example the use of electric, hydrogen fuel cell or hybrid vehicles, the initial financial investment required means that, for many, this is an untenable option. In contrast, Eco-driving, the modification of driver behaviour, presents an opportunity for all drivers, regardless of circumstance, to reduce the environmental impact of their own personal transportation.

As the G-Active project continues we will be exploring ways in which we can promote eco-driving behaviours to drivers to encourage more fuel-efficient driving, whether this is through increased training, interface design or alternative means. By encouraging positive and fuel efficient driving behaviours we hope to significantly cut emissions. 

If you are interested in learning more about eco-driving, here is a short selection of references.

Barkenbus, J. N. (2010). Eco-driving: An overlooked climate change initiative. Energy Policy, 38(2), 762-769.

Alam, M. S., & McNabola, A. (2014). A critical review and assessment of Eco-Driving policy & technology: Benefits & limitations. Transport Policy, 35, 42-49.

Sivak, M., & Schoettle, B. (2012). Eco-driving: Strategic, tactical, and operational decisions of the driver that influence vehicle fuel economy. Transport Policy, 22, 96-99.

McIlroy, R. C., & Stanton, N. A. (2017). What do people know about eco-driving? Ergonomics, (In Press).