Eco-driving down the cost of motoring

2nd March, 2008

The B3266 between Camelford and Bodmin is a route I know well, having driven it almost daily for the past 16 years. And since 3 or 4 years ago it has been designated a 50 mph speed limit.

The law abiding citizen I am, I pretty much keep my speed to the 50 mph limit, though I’ve heard several of my fellow Camelfordians bemoan the fact that it’s not still the black stripe through white circle, “national speed limit applies”.

But I have to say that I’m happy with how it is; in fact I do feel safer on the road and although I don’t have the facts to back it up, my impression is that overall there have been fewer accidents on this stretch of road since the speed limit was imposed.

And I’ve noticed something else.

Unless there is absolutely nobody else using the road that day, by capping my speed at 50 mph over the 13 mile journey from or to work I reach my destination in near enough the same length of time – give or take a minute or two.

Not only that, I noticed that I was using less fuel in a week by being forced to knock 10 or 15 mph off my top speed and therefore reducing the bursts of acceleration and hard braking.

Obvious you may think.

Apparently not. I was interested to read the results of a survey issued by the RAC this week that showed motorists could save themselves £100 a year by “eco driving.”

Apparently more than three quarters (77%) were not aware that under-inflated tyres increased fuel consumption and 27% did not know that switching off their air conditioning would reduce fuel consumption.

But what surprised me the most was that 60% were unaware that changing gear when their engine revs were high could reduce fuel consumption!

PFA Research hasn’t surveyed motorists recently but we do speak to a lot of businesses. Many are on an exciting journey, aspiring to grow, trying to cut costs and get as much mileage as possible out of their limited resources.

But how many I wonder are working the engine hard without making sufficient progress along the road? Of course, if they haven’t got a rev counter on the dashboard then they’re probably not driving as efficiently as they could be.

Now… how shall I spend that £100 I’ve saved by my smart eco-driving? Some new ‘go faster’ stripes for the side of my Peugeot maybe…