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Ecodriving is the Earth Day answer to vehicle emissions, fuel consumption

The Mineta Transportation Institute has issued a report on ecodriving education which finds that although not everyone will modify their behavior after learning bout the difference their driving style can make, even small behavioral shifts due to cost-effective data dissemination could be the most effective way to reduce fuel consumption and emissions.
Posted: April 22, 2012 - 3:39PM
Author: Don Bain

The report titled Ecodriving and Carbon Footprinting: Understanding How Public Education Can Result in Reduced Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Fuel Use provides a review and study of ecodriving education.

The methods employed could easily enhance more costly "dynamic ecodriving" efforts, that give continuous feedback through onboard driver monitoring systems.

Principal investigators for the study were Susan A. Shaheen, PhD, Elliot W. Martin, PhD, and Rachel S. Finson, MA.

"Ecodriving is a collection of changes to driving behavior and vehicle maintenance designed to impact fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in existing vehicles,” said Dr. Shaheen. “These include driving at the speed limit, keeping tires properly inflated, avoiding unnecessary weight, removing bike and roof racks, and observing other principles. Because of its promise to improve fuel economy within the existing fleet, ecodriving has gained increased attention in North America. One strategy to improve ecodriving is through public education on how to practice it."

The key study points included if commuters would adopt ecodriving practices if provided ecodriving and carbon footprinting information; to what extent greenhouse emissions and fuel consumption would drop from the new behavior and will the changes fade or persist.

Consisting of an extensive review of previous work and ecodriving eductation programs worldwide. Interviews were conducted with authorities in public relations and message delivery campaigns to determine the best method for data dissemination. The study also included focus groups examining consumer response to websites featuring ecodriving information. In conclusion, a nmber of surveys, were implemented to assess the effectiveness of web-based ecodriving information as well as a street survey in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Surveys revealed people do reduce driving speeds after exposure to ecodriving data. Study participants also found tips about altering driving behavior were more easily implemented than vehicle maintenance tips.

"In the US, the personal automobile is the primary mode of transportation for a majority of American households," said Dr. Shaheen continued. "Our literature review found that in 2008, transportation accounted for 27 percent of total US greenhouse gas emissions. According to the 2005-2007 American Community Survey 3-Year Estimates, 91.2 percent of households owned at least one vehicle and over 50 percent owned two or more vehicles. Thus, it would be helpful for US households to have carbon emissions and fuel use information specific to driving, which is often their primary transportation mode."

The Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) conducts research, education, and information and technology transfer, focusing on multimodal surface transportation policy and management issues, especially as they relate to transit. MTI was established by Congress in 1991 as part of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) and was reauthorized under TEA-21 and again under SAFETEA- LU. The Institute has been funded by Congress through the US Department of Transportation's (DOT) Research and Innovative Technology Administration, by the California Legislature through the Department of Transportation (Caltrans), and by other public and private grants and donations, including grants from the US Department of Homeland Security. DOT selected MTI as a National Center of Excellence following competitions in 2002 and 2006.


Nicolas Zart    April 23, 2012 - 11:32AM

Hi Don, great article. I once reviewed a company that had a green driving app which made a lot of sense. I know there are a few today and they can help reduce overall costs and save gas.