Fuel-efficient driving

To know and understand how to reduce your cars negative effects on the environment
To know how driving affects the environment and be able to minimise this.
  • To understand how driving affects the environment
  • To understand what is meant by air and noise pollution
  • To minimise your cars effect on the environment
On your driving test:
This will be covered on your theory test.

The future will be electric. It will be all about reducing emissions and thereby improving air quality.

Car and the environment

There are various things you can do now to reduce your car’s negative effects on the environment. These include:

  • Avoiding over revving your engine when starting up or pulling away
  • Don’t leave your vehicle running unnecessarily.
  • If you are stationary and likely to remain stopped for a few minutes then turn off your engine
  • Use your accelerator as smoothly as possible, this can reduce your fuel usage by as much as 15%
  • Save fuel by carrying less weight in your car.
  • Remove unneeded items from your boot and remove roof racks when not required
  • Only use air conditioning when really necessary – air conditioning can increase fuel consumption by up to 15%
  • Consider not using your car for short journeys and walk or use public transport instead

When you are going places give yourself time. A journey at 70 mph will use up to 30% more fuel than one at 50 mph. Plan your route in advance, you may use a lot of fuel if you become lost.

Different Types of Road Pollution:

Car with dirty exhaust

Air pollution – this is caused by the various gases your car produces. These gases such as Carbon Dioxide and Carbon Monoxide can have negative effects on the environment and the health and safety of others.

Noise Pollution – this is caused by noise from vehicles. Always avoid making unnecessary noise with your car, especially at night and when in residential areas.

Choosing a Vehicle:

New car in showroom

If you are buying a car bear in mind it’s fuel economy and emissions. A car with better fuel economy will have environmental benefits and also save you money on petrol costs.

Newly manufactured petrol cars are fitted with a catalytic converter. This is fitted to the cars exhaust and removes up to 75% of carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide. Carbon dioxide is still produced.

Diesel vehicles are very fuel efficient and emit less carbon dioxide than petrol cars. They do however produce more emissions of other pollutants that are bad for air quality.

Vehicle Maintenance:

Car in the garage

Keeping your vehicle well maintained is very important for the environment. Have your car serviced regularly and make sure your garage includes an emissions test.

Check your tyres are properly inflated. Incorrect tyre pressure can increase fuel consumption and emissions (as well as being potentially dangerous.)

Make sure your engine is tuned correctly. A badly tuned engine can use more fuel and emit more exhaust fumes. MOT tests include a strict exhaust emissions test to ensure car engines are properly tuned.

If you change your own oil always take it to a garage or local authority site for disposal. Never pour oil down the drain, this is illegal and could lead to prosecution and is very harmful to the environment.

Always do whatever possible to reduce your cars impact on the environment. Ensure your car is well maintained and carry out regular checks as required.

If you are stationary in your car turn off the engine.

If making short journeys consider walking or using public transport to reduce the environmental impact caused by cars.

Remember that many of the ways you can reduce the environmental impact will also reduce your motoring costs and fuel consumption.

You should have an understanding of:

  • How your driving can affect the environment
  • The different sorts of pollution
  • How being environmentally friendly can benefit your pocket
Further Reading:
The Highway Code Rule(s): 123

Driving The Essential Skills: Section(s) 17


What’s in the driving syllabus?

Click on a topic below to get started.
Please note this syllabus should be used with a professional driving instructor.

Cockpit Drill

Safety Checks

Controls and Instruments
Moving Away and Stopping
Safe Position
Mirrors Vision and Use
Anticipation and Planning
Use of Speed
Other Traffic
Dual Carriageway
Motorway Driving
Country Roads
Pedestrian Crossings
Turning the Vehicle Around
Emergency Stop
Independent Drive
Fuel-Efficient Driving
Passengers and Loads