Between 2009 and 2010 we ran a poll on the homepage of FuelClinic.com asking for feedback as to “what motivated you to become interested in eco-driving”. Tonight while going through some materials on my mess of folders on my hard-drive, I found the chart I created of the results. Thing is that I don’t think I’ve posted it previously. (A quick google of the site didn’t turn it up either.) So I’ll post it now.
The results: “Saving Money” was the response of nearly 58% of the 919 respondents, followed by “Reducing Foreign Oil Imports” at nearly 25%, leaving roughly 16% of respondents indicating that “Reducing CO2 Emissions” was their prime motivator.
Eco-driving is a great way to save money, it’s free and easy to do, works in any vehicle – no matter the fuel source, and there are some excellent online training courses becoming available online and at some driving schools. (I know of several courses currently in development, and will blog about them when they are online.)
But what’s also interesting is the strong desire among people who took the poll to reduce foreign oil imports – even above “saving money”.
Most of the time eco-driving is discussed it is in the context of being “good for the environment”, and surely it is. No matter what side of the climate change argument you park your car on, judging from this dataset you’d have to acknowledge that many eco-driving initiatives may be missing the mark by painting it solely as an environmental issue.
Eco-driving has demonstrated significant results in improving driver safety, reducing fuel consumption, reducing emissions and pollution for those drivers who practice the techniques as part of their normal driving. Fleets with eco-driving programs have demonstrated considerable cost savings and improvements in safety thanks to the sheer size and organization of fleet management. But I still do not believe that eco-driving has had any impact on reducing oil imports or reducing the cost of fuel – simply because it hasn’t been used widely enough. We need to convince a significant portion of the driving public that it’s in their interest to make these simple changes.
I think that painting eco-driving with a singular “green” brush may actually be working against the ultimate goals of eco-driving interests, and turn-off a vast percentage of the motoring public who might otherwise give it a try. It’s this arguing between political and social “camps” that keeps the status-quo in place instead of allowing good ideas to be recognized as good ideas. It’s also clear that eco-driving appeals to a wider audience than the “green” camp, and the signal sent in these alternate directions needs to be amplified and repeated.
One estimate I read recently (will link to source if I can find it again) put the realistic potential savings at about $800/yr per eco-driving daily commuter. That’s at least a car payment, maybe a mortgage payment in some parts, but is it “enough” to convince your average motorist that it’s “worth it”? I don’t know. With all of the bad news about the rising cost of gas and oil – some experts expect $5 gas in 2011 or 2012 – it’s likely more people will seek out ways they can reduce the amount of fuel they use.
I’ve been rambling a bit, so I’ll turn it over to whoever is interested enough to tell us what you think.