Cars equipped with telematics devices track all kinds of information about how the vehicle is used, measuring speed, cornering, braking, idling and other trends. That data can be collected by insurance companies and analyzed. Drivers who operate their vehicles safely can then be rewarded with discounted rates that reflect their good habits.
While I’m already acquainted with telematics, I didn’t realize the technology had the potential for “green driving” applications. With emissions reductions becoming ever more important in this age of heightened environmental awareness, I decided it was time to try adopting cleaner driving habits. It turns out there are a lot of easy ways drivers can reduce their ecological impact.
Green Driving Tip #1: Reduce Idling
Idling occurs anytime your vehicle is running but not moving. While it can’t be avoided in some situations, like when you’re waiting at a red light or stuck in a traffic jam, a lot of people still have the bad habit of idling unnecessarily.
Winter mornings are a good example. Many drivers are still in the habit of warming up their vehicles for several minutes before hitting the road. While the practice may once have been necessary, modern vehicle technologies have made it all but obsolete.
In decades past, carburetors were used to deliver fuel to the engine’s working parts. However, they tended not to work as efficiently in cold weather. Thus, drivers would give their vehicles a few minutes to warm up.
Today, fuel injection systems have essentially made old-school carburetors obsolete. They are far more efficient, and maintain their performance in all weather conditions. So, unless you’re driving a very old vehicle that still uses a carburetor as its fuel delivery system, you’re essentially wasting time and fuel by letting your car idle to warm up on a winter day.
While modern vehicles still need to warm up to reach maximum performance efficiency, the best way to achieve this is by driving it…not by letting it idle. In fact, excessive idling can actually cause engine damage, since it can lead to unhealthy buildups of sludge and other waste products.
Green Driving Tip #2: Check Your Tires
Tire inflation has a direct impact on fuel efficiency. Experts estimate that properly inflated tires can reduce your fuel consumption – and emissions – by 3 percent or more. Those savings really add up over the course of a vehicle’s lifespan! You’re also safer with properly inflated tires, and that also has a positive impact on your vehicle insurance.
Green Driving Tip #3: Keep Your Vehicle Tuned Up
A well-tuned, properly functioning engine has a similar effect. Here are some maintenance tasks you should perform on a regular basis:
- Always use the recommended grade of motor oil
- Replace your air filters when they’re dirty. This alone holds the potential to improve fuel economy by as much as 10 percent
- Have your engine tuned up by a licensed mechanic
If you notice any problems with your vehicle’s performance, have them addressed quickly. The longer you drive a car that isn’t firing on all cylinders, the more fuel you’ll waste — and the greater your risk of developing a serious problem that could cost thousands to fix.
Green Driving Tip #4: Plan Ahead
There are many ways that a little planning can go a long way:
- Find the shortest, most direct route to your destination before you leave on a car trip
- If you have errands to run, try to take care of as many as you can all at once, rather than making separate trips
- Try to avoid driving during rush hour, if possible. You’re more likely to get caught in traffic, which will leave you idling and wasting fuel
- Avoid weighing your vehicle down unnecessarily
- Eliminate roof racks if you don’t need them, as they cause aerodynamic drag
Finally, don’t speed. Not only will this help you be a safer driver with lower vehicle insurance rates, but it will also help you get better mileage. Fuel consumption rates increase dramatically when you go above 100 km/h, so stay as close to that rate of speed as possible when on the highway.
InsureMy is a progressive company that’s already using telematics to offer reduced vehicle insurance rates to responsible drivers in Alberta and Ontario. If you believe safe, responsible drivers should be rewarded with lower premiums, I recommend checking out their vehicle insurance plans.