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How to cut your carbon footprint on the road

The badge of one of the new hybrid type of cars.

It's no secret that petrol and diesel cars can cause nasty fumes and toxins that are bad for the environment. That's why many drivers are switching to electric cars or hybrids – new registrations rose from 3,500 in 2013 to over 137,000 by March 2018.

Charging points are popping up left, right and centre in the UK. There are 15,720 connectors, with 534 installed in the last 30 days. These cars will only get more popular and advanced, becoming a great mode of transport for drivers, whether protecting the environment is a top priority or not.

But what if the battery runs flat?

It's a common concern among drivers considering going electric – what if the car runs out of power mid-journey? Well, to answer that question with a question: how many times have you ran out of petrol? Make sure the battery is boosted before you set off, so it'll last you more miles than you'll be covering on your trip – and pinpoint some charging points en-route. Do all this and there's no reason why you should break down; if you do, just follow normal protocol, which involves calling roadside assistance.

If buying a brand new electric or hybrid car just isn't feasible at the moment, fear not. We're here to offer some advice on how you can make greener choices when it comes to your car, and some tips on driving more economically.

Diesel vs petrol

It's hard to tell which fuel is more polluting, because they both have their downsides. Petrol cars are less efficient and emit more carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons, but diesel engines produce more nitrogen oxide, sulphur dioxide and black smoke.

The car's make, model and year count, too. So, if you're wondering about the green credentials of a certain car, searching the government's database is a great place to start.

What's worth bearing in mind is that from May 2018, diesel cars will be put under stricter emissions testing during the MOT, with huge road tax hikes expected for the most polluting models. Adding to this is the fact that all new petrol and diesel cars will be banned from 2040, with think tank Green Alliance calling for the date to be brought forward by 10 years.

Drive smart, drive green

If you're not planning on switching cars, here are some tips that'll help you to develop greener driving habits.

  • Do you really need those camping chairs in the boot in winter? Remove excess weight from the car before you set off
  • Start the car when you're ready to set off, as idling wastes fuel
  • If you're only travelling a mile or two, why not enjoy a healthier walk or cycle instead?
  • When driving, smoothly does it – that goes for accelerating and braking
  • Read the road ahead in plenty of time to prevent unnecessary, harsh braking. And if you can, rather than braking, decelerate softly, leaving the car in gear
  • Stick to the speed limit – not only are you breaking the law if you exceed it, but going faster uses more fuel.

If you're more conscious about driving economically, it won't just be the environment that benefits. Greener driving will cut back on your fuel consumption too, saving you money over time.


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