How your driving could help save the planet
Climate change and environmental damage are topics that need to be addressed by everyone – and that means we need to think carefully before driving anywhere.
The truth for many of us is that while we like the idea of saving the planet, we don’t relish the prospect of the sacrifices we have to make.
But by changing the way you use your car, it is possible to own a vehicle and still keep your carbon footprint to a minimum. Here’s how.
How we drive
In the UK, the average car does around 8,500 miles a year, showing just how reliant we are on this mode of transport.
But, when we take a closer look, it soon becomes apparent that cutting our carbon emissions is easy. How? By walking.
According to the latest figures from the Department for Transport, a fifth of all car journeys are less than one mile – that’s a 15 minute walk.
Cars are at their most inefficient over short distances, so you’ll be saving money, too.
Not everyone lives within walking distance of local amenities, but research shows that the vast majority of us do.
According to the 2010 National Travel Survey, over four-fifths of us live within a 15-minute stroll of the following services:
Shop selling groceries
Doctor’s surgery or health centre
If you use your car for the school run, could you walk or encourage your children to ride their bikes instead?
The latest figures show that the average trip from home to a primary school is a mile and a half. Many primary schools operate walk-to-school schemes, which save on fuel and encourage children to be active from an early age.
For secondary school kids, the length of the commute increases to an average of three and a half miles. Perfect for cycling. Make sure they have all the recommended safety equipment and road skills before setting out.
On your bike
The bicycle is, pound-for-pound, the most efficient mode of transport on earth. And it’s often quicker to travel by bike than by car, especially in heavily built-up areas.
But a person riding a 14kg bike is very vulnerable to a car weighing in at a ton and half and travelling much faster.
Fortunately, the national cycle network is now 13,000 miles long, with a further 12,000 miles of local routes and links. If you’d like to know more, Sustrans is a national charity that supports sustainable transport.
Fill your car
Car occupancy rates vary according to the purpose of the journey, but on average, a four- or five-seater car generally carries two people or less. Used like this, a vehicle is half as efficient as it is when full.
Car sharing is a great way to meet new people, save money and fill the car up at the same time.
Use the car
Car travel has been an independent travel revolution, but overuse has created a level of gridlock that makes driving a daily nightmare for many.
Cars are a fantastic convenience and at their most efficient and environmentally friendly when travelling at reasonable speeds across parts of the country where it’s not so easy to travel via alternative means.
There is no need for us to give up our cars. By using them more efficiently, we can get the most from our four-wheeled friend, and look after the planet too.
Wherever you drive, make sure that you have adequate car insurance to cater for your needs.
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