Pollutionwatch: how skilful driving can reduce toxic fumes

(The Guardian, 12 Sep 2019) Gentler acceleration and electric vehicles can reduce air pollution but walking or cycling are best.

Local authorities are encouraging people not to leave their cars idling as tests show we can reduce air pollution by changing the way we drive.

Scientists in Utah measured exhaust emissions from a test car driven by volunteers over a set route. Contrary to the stereotypical view of the “boy racer”, the study showed the older male participants were the most polluting drivers.

Experienced motorists produced about 50% more hydrocarbon and nitrogen oxides compared with younger drivers, who accelerated more gently and used less power on hills. This demonstrates that more skilful driving can help reduce air pollution.

Other studies have shown motorists who are inexperienced at driving electric vehicles tend to accelerate faster than petrol and diesel drivers, leading to more energy use and greater particle pollution from tyre wear.

This is because electric motors respond quickly when the accelerator is pressed. When retested after five months, however, electric vehicle owners had optimised their driving and were less polluting.

A study of hybrid vehicles showed how technical knowledge and dashboard feedback enabled drivers to use less fuel and produce less pollution.

External link

The Guardian, 12 Sep 2019: Pollutionwatch: how skilful driving can reduce toxic fumes