How Public Education on Ecodriving Can Reduce Both Fuel Use and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

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Authors: Elliot Martin, Nelson Chan, Susan Shaheen

Published: November 15, 2011

Abstract: Ecodriving, the concept of changing driving behavior and vehicle maintenance to impact fuel consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in existing vehicles, has gained recent prominence in North America. One ecodriving strategy involves public education through Internet-based information dissemination. This paper presents the results of a controlled stated-response study conducted with approximately 100 University of California, Berkeley faculty, staff, and students, assessing the effectiveness of static ecodriving web-based information. A comparison of the experimental and control groups found that exposure to ecodriving information influenced people’s driving behavior and maintenance practices. The experimental group’s distributional shift was statistically significant, particularly for key practices including: lower highway cruising speed, driving behavior adjustment, and proper tire inflation. Within the experimental group (N = 51), fewer respondents significantly changed their maintenance practices (16%) than the majority that altered some driving practices (71%); this suggests intentional altering of driving behavior is easier than planning better maintenance practices. A comparison of before- and after-surveys found that 57% of the experimental group improved their ecodriving behavior, while 43% made no change or worsened. Key characteristics of the drivers that improved include: being female, living in smaller households, and owning a newer car with higher fuel economy. While it was evident that not everyone modifies their behavior as a result of reviewing the website, even small shifts in behavior due to inexpensive information dissemination could be deemed cost effective in reducing fuel consumption and emissions.

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July 21, 2015

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