Authors: Elliot Martin, Ph.D., Howard Chan, Susan Shaheen, Ph.D.
Date: March 2012
Abstract: Ecodriving, the concept of changing driving behavior and vehicle maintenance to affect fuel consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in existing vehicles, has recently gained prominence in North America. One ecodriving strategy involves public education with information disseminated on the Internet. This paper presents the results of a study conducted from June to December 2010 that assessed the effectiveness of static, web-based information on ecodriving with controlled stated responses from approximately 100 faculty, staff, and students at the University of California, Berkeley. A comparison of the experimental and control groups revealed that exposure to ecodriving information influenced people’s driving behavior and maintenance practices. The experimental group’s distributional shift in behavior was statistically significant, particularly for key practices, including lower highway cruising speed, adjustment of driving behavior, and proper tire inflation. Within the experimental group (N = 51), only 16% of respondents significantly changed their maintenance practices whereas 71% altered some driving practices; these data suggest that intentional alteration of driving behavior is easier than is planning better maintenance practices. A comparison of before-and-after surveys revealed that 57% of the experimental group improved their ecodriving behavior and that 43% made no change or worsened. Key characteristics of the drivers who improved included being female, living in smaller households, and owning a newer car with higher fuel economy. Although it was evident that not everyone modified behavior as a result of reviewing the website, even small shifts in behavior attributable to inexpensive dissemination of information could be deemed cost-effective in reducing fuel consumption and emissions.