Here it comes. The day you get the keys. Keys to your freedom. Keys to your future. Keys that are all about privilege and all about some pretty significant responsibility.
But have you earned them? Are you a skilled, knowledgeable, and environmentally responsible driver?
Not that long ago, people didn’t have a strong understanding of the role automobiles play in climate change
and the impact driving has on the environment. It’s a little different now, because you can put some facts “under your hood”,like…
Vehicle engines produce carbon dioxide (CO2)
CO2 is the principal greenhouse gas
Greenhouse gas emissions in turn affect the Earth’s climate and
As a result, climate change compromises the survival of living things
Lets get into specifics.
A 1,400 kg car produces about 4,200 kg of CO2 per year.
If you multiply that by 20 million vehicles it creates a staggering impact on a planet that is trying its best just to survive.
It’s all about being aware of the negative environmental consequences of driving.
And taking a close look at options like walking, biking, skateboarding, carpooling, taking public transit.
You can make choices that allow you to hang up those keys sometimes and explore the alternatives.
As you face your future as an environmentally responsible and highly skilled new driver,
remember to examine alternative ways of living and working, things like tele-working, conference calling or taking courses on the web.
Remember, too, how important it is to plan every trip, to avoid backtracking or inefficient routes, to combine several trips or errands into one,
to watch for slowdowns and snags, Because planning can save you money AND save the environment as well.
You can also take a very close look at some driving techniques that will help you be more gentle to Mother Earth,
your vehicle, and your pocketbook as well.
Let’s review some of these techniques now:
First :Avoid jackrabbit starts at all costs – think of the accelerator as the money pedal always use it gently… efficiently.
Second: Maintain a steady speed, because it maximizes your vehicle’s ability to use all the things that make it fuel-efficient.
Varying your speed unnecessarily uses more fuel and increases wear and tear since you’re on and off the brakes.
The wear is on tires, brake pads, rotors, shoes and drums and you’re putting unnecessary stress on your transmission and driveline…
not to mention the fact that you’re stressing yourself out needlessly.
Third: Avoid high speeds. On the highway, simply slowing down from 120 km/h to 100 km/h saves you 20% on fuel.
You can also take advantage of the way today’s vehicles are made, because today,
they operate most efficiently between 50 and 80 km per hour.
There are also other risks of driving too fast, too:
Your reaction time is compromised when everything is going quickly
Your vehicle may be stressed to the max, putting tires and suspension, for instance, at their outer limits
It is illegal to drive over the speed limit, and at the very least, the tickets and impact on insurance rates can be very very significant.
So just remember that reducing your speed by 20 km per hour saves 20% on fuel AND reduces vehicle wear and tear
AND reduces greenhouse gas and other nasty emissions which compromise our environment.
Fourth: You also have the ability to save fuel, stress,
and wear and tear by studying the road and by anticipating the traffic ahead of you – things like:
A light ahead turning yellow, or even the walk signal beginning to flash
Brake lights on the horizon, not just right in front of you, but as much as half a kilometre ahead or more
Evidence of clumping of cars ahead
A sudden change in weather conditions, like the onset of rain, sleet, or snow
Signs pointing to construction activity or detours
All these things can give you key information, like whether to gradually slow down, whether to change lanes well in advance,
whether to accelerate or maintain your current speed.
And all this is possible because you focus on the future –seconds or minutes in front of you… and metres or kilometres in front of you.
What does this accomplish?
It lowers stress, saves wear and tear on all the running parts of your vehicle, and saves you from using fuel unnecessarily.
Fifth: Here’s the final driving skill: the fine art of doing nothing: of coasting.
Coasting means you plan the phases of each segment you drive, whether it’s a block or a few hundred kilometers.
You accelerate – gradually…
You maintain your speed with small adjustments…
When you know you will be stopping in the future, you COAST, allowing the vehicle to slow down.
THEN you brake. And you’ll find that you brake LESS because you’ve slowed down by coasting.
Most vehicles today are equipped with fuel-injection systems that automatically shut off fuel to the engine when the accelerator is released.
So coasting means you’re employing good thinking and driving skills – and saving fuel.
So now you’ve learned about the environment, and you’ve learned a lot about driving techniques
that can put as much as $500 in your pocket every year. But there’s more.
Here are some essential steps that will help you become an astute buyer or leaser of vehicles.
When you’re looking at buying or leasing, you now know to start by analyzing your driving lifestyle.
That means asking yourself these important questions:
Who are you? Where do you live? What do you do?
How do you spend your time?
How many people and things will you carry along with you?
How much traveling will you do?
Answering these questions will ensure you buy a vehicle that meets your everday needs.
It’s also important to choose the right type of motive power.
Hybrids combine electric power with a gasoline or diesel engine, have low fuel consumption;
these vehicles automatically shut off when you are idling and restart when you are ready to go, which adds to their efficiency.
These vehicles are so smart that you never have to worry about the battery running out!
Diesel-powered vehicles typically get 30% more distance out of a tank of fuel compared to the same size gasoline vehicle
Smaller conventional gasoline powered vehicles are also very fuel efficient
100% electric vehicles that need to be plugged in and recharged;
these vehicles are suitable if you travel short distances and produce no exhaust emissions while on the road.
There’s a wealth of choices for you, that will allow you to choose the style, size, and engine type that makes best sense for you.
Think light… think small… think efficient,
and choose the vehicle that meets your everyday needs as opposed to buying something that you may need only once in a while.
Remember to also read the labels – the EnerGuide labels, the “fine print”… and helpful web sites like vehicles.nrcan.gc.ca.
Look for vehicles with the lowest fuel consumption rating.
For example - a vehicle which consumes 7 litres per 100km uses half the fuel of a vehicle that consumes 14 litres per 100km.
All these resources will help make a choice and compare vehicles you compare vehicles and make an informed choice.
So there it is, here’s to you, and here’s to Auto$mart. Here’s to driving like the future depends on it.
Here’s to money in the bank… and a fighting chance for this beautiful ecosphere called Earth, and this amazing country called Canada.
Take the keys and remember what they represent.
They represent all the learning you have done, and all the promise of a safe, skilled, and environmentally responsible future.