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Driving Tips

Eco Driving Tips

It is getting more expensive to run a car especially with the current price of fuel. You can improve your fuel consumption by adopting a “greener ” approach to your driving. Driving with empathy for the car, fuel consumption and the environment.

A regularly serviced engine (as per manufacturer’s recommendation) will optimise fuel/engine performance and in the long run will save money on fuel and increase the life of the engine.

Your tyres should be kept to the manufacturer’s recommended pressure. Too low and extra road surface contact will create drag and the friction will reduce fuel consumption. The life of the tyre will be reduced. Too high and the tyre will wear excessively in the middle and give a less comfortable drive.

Avoid carrying unnecessary items in the car. More weight equals more fuel. The faster you travel the more air resistance. This in turn leads to increased use of fuel.

Eco-driving is now being recorded on driving tests. Your ability to drive smoothly avoiding excess acceleration and braking. Using engine braking where appropriate. Using the gears in a controlled manner at the correct speed to optimise their use. Planning ahead and anticipating problems to avoid any late or over reaction. The outcome of a driving test will not be effected. However this is a pilot scheme and could well be introduced as part of the test in the future.

Did you know…

  • As a new driver, you will find it easier to get the feel of the foot controls if you wear thin-soled shoes or trainers.

  • The correct way to use the clutch is to bend the knee and keep the ball of the foot on the pedal. Your heel should lift off the floor as you raise your foot to find the biting point. Using your ankle to pivot upwards is awkward and difficult to control. Moving off smoothly and manoeuvring the car at slow speed becomes difficult. You will find yourself having to wriggle your foot back into place at regular intervals.

  • Sometimes when trying to select reverse gear – it will not go in! It is not you! The gears do not always line up. Select a forward gear and try again. This time you should succeed.

  • The car is on springs for a smooth ride – the suspension. When you stop the car on a hill it sinks on its springs. To find the biting point for an uphill start without fear of rolling back, feel the car lift (on its springs) and you have the weight of the car. You will not roll back.

  • The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency has recognised steering safely and in control does not necessarily mean a fixed routine of holding the steering wheel at ten-to-two or feeding the steering wheel through your hands at all times without crossing your arms. There are times when a more relaxed grip and crossing your arms can be more appropriate during slow paced manoeuvres for example. Steering with one arm only and letting the wheel slip through your fingers after a turn does not however constitute control. The examiner is looking for controlled steering following the correct line during a driving test with some flexibility as to how you do it.

  • Oversteering on a bend is caused by steering the front of the car and not the wheels. The two do not point in the same direction on a bend. Steer the wheels and allow the front of the car to follow, this will help to stay with the curve.

  • Dry steering (turning the steering wheel while stationary) is okay providing your vehicle has power-steering. Sometimes you need to, to recover from a manoeuvre. You will not be penalised on a driving test.

  • When slowing down you do not have to change down through the gears 4-3-2-1. Apply the brake and select the gear to match the slower speed when you know what it is. If you are stopping, just apply the brake followed by the clutch. You can select neutral once you have stopped.

  • You are not expected to select neutral gear every time you stop temporarily. You have enough to do especially as lead car waiting at traffic lights. You can remain in 1st gear (preferably without biting point for too long), handbrake applied if needed.

  • Traffic lights are sometimes fitted with visors to avoid confusion where there is more than one set of lights close together. It could be dangerous for an approaching driver to see both red and green lights showing. One set of lights is visored, fitted with narrow slats and angled to obscure the projected light at a distance. Close up they can be seen from the lower line of sight.

  • Before pulling away from a bus stop the bus driver applies the footbrake and then releases the handbrake before signalling. In other words the brake lights come on before the right indicator flashes. (This is a built in safety feature for automatic vehicles and modern buses are automatic). It does not happen like that every time but it is a very useful clue if you are considering passing the stationary bus.

  • Flashing headlights should only be used to advise or warn other road users of your presence. However, it is a means of communication and should not be ignored if a driver flashes at you. Make sure you interpret it correctly and do make sure you look properly. You cannot rely on their observation if you are invited to emerge for example. Ask yourself:-
    • Is it meant for me? 
    • Does it mean what I think it does? 
    • Is it safe to accept?

  • Emerging on to a busy roundabout can be a confusing experience. Who’s going where and when? There is a basic rule. You give way to your right and so does everybody else!! Vehicles already on the roundabout will block the flow of oncoming traffic and you may have the opportunity to move forward. Watch their speed and steering, with practise you will get to recognise their intention earlier.

  • Too many drivers forget the basic courtesy of signalling and sadly you cannot guarantee the accuracy of the signal even if they do signal. Their speed and direction are the only sure way of knowing what they are doing. If in doubt don’t!

  • Examiners are examined. You could have a supervising examiner sitting in on your driving test as well as your instructor/observer on test. It would be a good idea to experience somebody in the back of the car in addition to your instructor as part of your training. You will get the feel of the heavier car and how it affects steering, acceleration and braking.