Driver advice: sustainable
Everyone can Pledge to - minimise the amount they drive, or not drive at all, and get about by walking, cycling or public transport as much as possible, for road safety, the environment and their health.
Why go eco?
By choosing sustainable travel, we can all help to reduce the road safety, public health, environmental and economic costs to society of our over-reliance on cars. Fewer cars on the road mean fewer road deaths and injuries, less congestion, less emissions and more pleasant, sociable communities.
Whether it's doing the school run on foot or bike, walking to the local shop instead of driving to the supermarket, or taking public transport to work instead of driving, incorporating active and sustainable travel into your routine can be really simple, and it's a great way to stay active, save money, and do your bit for the environment.
Do you need to drive?
More than half of New Zealanders' travel time is spent driving. 76% of trips less than 5km long are made by car, many of which could be made on foot or bike, or by public transport. While each trip may not seem like much, it all adds up to a lot of unnecessary car use.
For each journey you make by car, ask yourself if there's a more sustainable and healthy option. If it's a short journey, could you walk or cycle? Check your local council's website for information on local cycling and walking routes. Get into the habit of leaving the car at home for these shorter journeys and you'll spend less money on petrol and feel healthier for the exercise - plus you'll be helping to make your area a nicer, less polluted place.
For longer journeys could you take a bus, train or coach instead?
If you drive to and from work, you may be able to switch to a sustainable commute, which may be quicker, cheaper, healthier and less stressful. Research shows that people who commute by walking and cycling are better able to concentrate and are less stressed. Look online at your local travel information to see what sustainable transport options you have, including bus routes, train services and safe cycle paths.
If you want to cycle to work but don't own a bike, find out if there's a bike share scheme in your area, or ask your employer if they are part of a bike hire scheme - there are several around the country.
If you have to drive
If there are journeys that you have to make by car, there are some simple steps you can take to minimise the negative impacts of this on you and the people around you:
- Make the Brake Pledge, a simple six point pledge to help keep you and others safe on the road and prevent needless tragedies
- Keep to a lower speed and avoid harsh braking and acceleration to produce fewer emissions and improve fuel efficiency. In particular, slow down to 30km/h or below in built up areas, even where the speed limit is 50. It's unlikely to affect your journey time significantly, but it will mean your car is less polluting because there is less speeding up and slowing down, and it will mean you're helping to make roads safer for people on foot and bike. See our advice on speed
- The same principle applies on faster roads. If you travel at 110km/h rather than 100km/h, not only are you breaking the law, it can cost you an extra 10% in fuel. Slower is not only safer, but it's better for the environment and will save you money on petrol
- Plan your journeys more efficiently. If you have a number of errands to do or journeys to make, can they be combined into the same trip? Make sure you still allow plenty of time for driving at safe, slow speeds, possible hold-ups, and breaks every two hours
- Make sure your vehicle is properly maintained. A well maintained vehicle produces fewer emissions and is more fuel efficient. Simple things like keeping your tyres well inflated, cleaning or replacing dirty air and fuel filters, and regularly changing your oil can improve fuel efficiency. Read our advice on vehicle maintenance
Last updated January 2016
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