Technology can help make vehicles more efficient in their energy use but incentives that reward green driving habits are also required
Stagecoach, one of the UK’s largest bus and coach operators, has announced an investment in a hi-tech eco-driving system to be installed in 6,500 buses in Scotland, England and Wales. Some 13,800 Stagecoach drivers will start using GreenRoad to help reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions.
It uses a dashboard traffic lights-style system to provide drivers with real-time feedback on their driving. The technology measures 120 separate aspects of driving in five categories: speed handling, cornering, land handling, braking and acceleration. The data is also transmitted back to the GreenRoad servers, where a website provides real-time reports and analysis. Managers and drivers can use the information to assess driving and how driving habits can be improved.
A key element of the initiative will be a driver incentive scheme, giving employees the chance to earn ‘green points’ which give them a share of an annual bonus pot worth up to £900,000.
The last point is significant. As with much of the ‘enabling’ aspect of green ICT, the technology can’t achieve results on its own. It’s really about changing behaviour, which is a whole lot easier if there is an incentive. Maybe one day we will all come to accept that being more environmentally friendly is its own incentive, but we’re not there yet.
Environment behaviour change charity Global Action Plan is doing a similar job and is hoping to address driving habits through the eco-driving simulator it has launched as part of its Fuel Wise programme. The simulator monitors driving styles and how they affect fuel consumption and is being used by businesses to improve their drivers’ efficiency, which significantly reduces CO2 emissions and cuts fuel costs.
The eco driving simulator can be hired as a fun way to show the benefits of fuel-efficient driving, but employees of one company cut the cost of their daily drive to work, saving an average of £200 per year on fuel costs.
Even more of a challenge is to get ‘white van man’ to go green, but that’s what a campaign from the Green Transport Network is trying to do. Set up by the UK arm of online transport marketplace uShip, the Green Transport Network website brings together information, guidance and advice to help small transport businesses reduce their CO2 emissions.
Of course it would be better if we didn’t all drive so much in the first place and Green Transport Week aims to raise awareness of the impact that travel has on the environment. For many of us, though, leaving the car behind is not an option, yet. Technology can at least help point the way to lessening the impact.
Pete Foster is a writer, researcher and consultant on sustainable ICT
Read the article on Guardian.co.uk