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It’s really just an up-market term for fuel economy — learning to drive your vehicle in a way that minimises your fuel consumption. Among the tips are: don’t carry unnecessary loads, speed up and brake smoothly, engage the appropriate gear for your road speed, don’t leave the engine idling unnecessarily, use the engine to brake when you can, and drive at the most fuel-efficient speeds. Campaigners argue that techniques such as these can reduce fuel costs by up to a third.

The term has been around for some years. Early examples refer to Japanese schemes to encourage “environmentally efficient driving” to reduce emissions as much as to economise on fuel. It has had a fair amount of exposure in British newspapers recently as a result of European initiatives, in particular a campaign by the Dutch to reduce fuel consumption, cut emissions and improve safety through teaching eco-motoring measures to learner drivers and by including them in the theory element of the driving test. The UK Driving Standards Agency introduced an eco-safe test for new instructors in October 2005 and the skills are to be part of the theory test from 2008.

Greater encouragement and incentives for the development and take-up of technological solutions such as hybrid and fuel-cell vehicles are required and these financial incentives should be linked to an education and communication programme to encourage eco-driving.

Independent, 4 Apr. 2006

New for 2006 are a 30-minute documentary on Driving Skills for Life, to be broadcast this spring on public television stations, including PBS, and enhanced curriculum on the web site, notably the importance of eco-driving to personal safety and the environment.

US Newswire, 16 Mar. 2006

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Copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
Page created 13 May 2006

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The English language is forever changing. New words appear; old ones fall out of use or alter their meanings. World Wide Words tries to record at least a part of this shifting wordscape by featuring new words, word histories, words in the news, and the curiosities of native English speech.

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
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Last modified: 13 May 2006.