Canadians primed for green driving

Would you like to improve your eco-driving skills, decrease your environmental footprint or simply save money by reducing your fuel bills?

Maybe you’d also like to learn more about automobile environmental or fuel-efficiency issues?

All the answers are at hand, free of charge — just a mouse click away.

The Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) has teamed up with Natural Resources Canada and Pollution Probe to produce a primer book and two brochures that can help drivers save fuel and reduce their environmental footprint.

The primary objective of these publications is to get individuals like you and me to reduce automobile fuel consumption, related greenhouse gases and air pollutants. And apparently there’s a heck of a lot that we can do, without buying an electric car.

“In polling CAA did a few weeks ago, Canadians told us they want to drive greener and they expect CAA to be a leader in showing them how,” says Jeff Walker, vice-president of public affairs and chief strategy officer for CAA.

“This was a trend seen all throughout Canada, and especially in Quebec.”

The first brochure released in conjunction with the primer is entitled What You Can Do to Conserve Fuel and Reduce Emissions. It includes eco-driving tips that save fuel, such as:

– Avoiding aggressive starts and stops which consumes up to 39 per cent more fuel than moderate acceleration and stopping;

– Removing excess weight from vehicles as every 100 pounds of added weight burns two per cent more fuel; and,

– Installing a block heater on a vehicle, as car engines burn 50 per cent more fuel in cold weather when the engine isn’t warmed up.

A second brochure, entitled Busting Myths About Fuel Efficiency and Driving, exposes myths associated about fuel efficiency, such as:

– It’s more fuel efficient to use air conditioning on the highway than leaving the windows down.

– Choosing a fuel efficient vehicle means compromising safety.

– Individuals can’t make much of a difference -wait for advanced technology to do the job.

“The public needs more than a fact sheet on fuel efficiency,” said Bob Oliver, co-writer of the primer and executive director of Pollution Probe. “We created this primer to help motorists understand the environmental and economic impacts of automobile technology innovations that are coming in the next decade. An informed and engaged public is critical to a successful transition to a cleaner future.”

The book and brochures are available, free to download, on,a new CAA sub-site. It also gives visitors an opportunity to watch videos about fuel efficiency and take a fun quiz that tests their fuel-efficiency expertise.

The primer explains how automobile fuel consumption can be reduced through the application of driving techniques and technologies that minimize weight, reduce drag, produce power more efficiently, and minimize energy losses in vehicle systems.

“There are some Canadians who think the only way to really save fuel is to drive a hybrid,” says Walker. “Any car can be made more efficient, and if you use our tools, you’ll reduce your environmental footprint.”

Using the technologies available today like direct fuel injection and more efficient transmissions, the average automobile could consume 30 per cent less fuel with little or no loss in size, acceleration, safety, or comfort. Include some modified driving habits and these reductions could be as much as 50 per cent or more.

Car buyers should also look for the Ener-Guide label on a new vehicle. It gives expected fuel consumption figures plus an estimate of annual fuel costs. Natural Resources Canada also provides its Fuel Consumption Guide online.

Pollution Probe is a Canadian environmental not-for-profit group dedicated to achieving positive, tangible environmental change through its research, education and advocacy programs. Visit to learn more about Pollution Probe.

Bob McHugh is a freelance automotive journalist, writing on behalf of BCAA.

Photograph by: Getty Images