While public transport is crucial to a sustainable transport network, the flexibility and convenience of cars and other personal motor vehicles means they will always be a part of any society. With private vehicles comprising over 70% of transport mode share in Victoria, car efficiency in both vehicle and usage are among the highest priorities.
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1. Smart Driving techniques
Research has demonstrated that drivers can use less petrol to go the same distance, just by making a few simple changes to the way they drive. This reduces carbon emissions, decreases vehicle wear and saves drivers money in petrol costs.
A major study of ‘eco-driving’ in Europe found that these simple techniques reduced fuel consumption by 10-20 percent, with a maximum of 50 percent savings.
Top tips include:
- Drive Smoothly - Aggressive driving can use as much as a third more fuel compared to conservative driving.
- Use Higher Gears - The higher the gear, the lower the engine speed.
- Tune and Service the Engine - A well tuned engine can improve fuel economy by up to four percent.
- Keep the Tyres at the Correct Pressure - Correctly inflated tyres are safer and last longer, and reduce the amount of energy required to keep rolling.
- Avoid Carrying Excess Weight - For every extra 45 kilograms (100 pounds) carried in a vehicle, the fuel efficiency can drop by two percent
Download Environment Victoria's Drive Smarter Fact Sheet for details of these simple driving efficiency tips, or visit The Australian Government's 'Top Ten Tips for Fuel Efficient Driving page', or the very comprehensive list at the 'Fuel efficient driving tips' on the Car Advice website.
2. Fleet management
Many local governments maintain a fleet of vehicles, both for business and personal use by Councillors and Council officers, and also for management and maintenance of services in the local government's area, such as road works, parks maintenance and community transport.
In selecting and managing the vehicles for this fleet, local governments can substantially improve the sustainability of their operations.
Considering factors such as the load the vehicle is likely to need to carry, density of the area it will predominately travel in, and the location of the person using the vehicle can all contribute to making the best choice of car for the job.
A hybrid, Smart Car or 4-cylinder car will be far more appropriate for those typically travelling through higher-density areas. Where a vehicle is simply for commuting and business travel, larger vehicles are unnecessary and inefficient - the prowess of the V8 engine does not add up to a good investment. For heavy vehicles, diesel vehicles and optimal route planning can greatly improve efficiency.
Is a company vehicle necessary? Presenting employees with a range of options, such as public transport tickets, a company bicycle as described by this TravelSmart toolkit, or additional salary rather than a vehicle allow employees to choose an arrangement that best suits them, potentially saving the necessity of a fleet vehicle and associated maintenance.
Where a vehicle is necessary, the Australian Government's Green Vehicle Guide is an excellent resource for selecting a vehicle that meets your needs with the greatest possible efficiency.
Carpooling is simply a method of travel where people combine and use a single vehicle to complete a journey they would otherwise have completed alone, using multiple cars.
This simple method can acheive significant reductions in carbon emissions and maximise efficiency by removing up to four vehicles from the road. Carpooling also has the additional benefits of promoting social networking and community among participants. The TravelSmart Initiative provides an excellent discussion on the benefits of carpooling to communities.
Carpooling is widely practiced and promoted among businesses, community groups and a large number of local governments including:
The Victorian Transport Plan released by the Victorian Government in 2009 has allocated $5.2 million towards carpooling projects. By safely increasing the average number of occupants in private cars, particularly in peak hour, this funding will reduce the overall number of cars on the road when emissions are at their worst. This will help reduce congestion as well as reduce emissions associated with car travel.
A number of private companies run carpooling schemes avaiable to the public :
4. Car Sharing
Car sharing is an alternative system of car ownership, access and use.
Private companies offer paid membership, which allows people to take and use a number of vehicles when and as needed. These self-service cars are available twenty four hours a day and are typically distributed over a wide urban area. Members generally pre-pay and can access a car for as little as an hour or for extended periods.
For people who don't need a car everyday, using a car share scheme may be a better option than owning your own car. The benefits of car share include:
- the potential to reduce demand for parking
- older, more polluting cars are replaced with new, more fuel efficient vehicles
- smarter choices about transport to maximise transportation efficiency, and
- stronger community through efficient sharing of resources.
The major car share companies operating in Victoria are: