The amount of carbon dioxide produced from vehicle engines is directly related to fossil fuel consumption, which means that reducing greenhouse gas emissions translates straight into lower costs for drivers and commercial haulers. This is why automakers put so much effort into fuel-efficient engines and lighter vehicles: their customers pay close attention to the cost of driving.
But the vehicle itself isn’t the only variable when it comes to improving mileage; driver behavior is another important factor. Route planning, smooth acceleration and proper braking have a significant impact on economy and emissions. These efficiency techniques can be referred to as eco-driving.
Eco-driving can be applied to all types of motorized transportation, and courses are available not only for autos and trucks, but also for ships and trains.
The haulage company Wiklunds Åkeri is just one of many Swedish firms that have invested in eco-driving instruction for its operators. In the autumn of 2005, Wiklunds contacted Greater Than, which specializes in resource efficiency in the transport sector. In a trial phase, Wiklunds equipped 12 of its vehicles with data recorders that keep track of driving patterns, and the project quickly yielded results. The company has now equipped about 100 vehicles with on-board computers, cutting fuel use by about 4 percent. Wiklunds’ goal is to raise that figure to 6 percent.
In addition to installing data recorders, Wiklunds trains drivers in eco-driving techniques to keep their skills current and maintain motivation. The company also employs several “savings coaches,” who work with the drivers to analyze driving style. Drivers meet with coaches about once a month to get feedback and tips. Individual salary bonuses are paid to drivers who show particularly high reductions in fuel consumption, and Wiklunds says drivers are largely positive to the program.
Article published in January 2010