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“I'll minimise the amount I drive, or not drive at all. I'll get about by walking, cycling or public transport as much as I can, for road safety, the environment and my health.”        

We all know that our environment is suffering.  We all try our best to do a little here and there; whether this be recycling our cardboard boxes or laying off of the deodorant.  However, do the air-quality pollutant emissions from petrol, diesel and alternative-fuels ever spring into our heads before we take to the wheel to embark on our journeys?  

Natalie Donald In the battle of Convenience v Environment, convenience usually wins.  We cannot see the damage that driving causes and we cannot hear it.  This makes it easier to ignore.  Alternative methods of transport and, of course, walking, are not just beneficial for our environment but also our own health and safety within our communities.  It is estimated that 29,000 deaths occur as a result of matter pollution in the UK; 5,000 of which are as a result of road transport.  In addition to this, matter pollution has been linked to heart disease and lung problems, including asthma.  It is for these reasons that the burden to reduce emissions is with each individual within society.  

When we think about our polluted air, we think about the great outdoors.  However, a recent study found that levels of nitrogen dioxide were on average 21% higher inside a vehicle with the windows closed (on a two-hour journey along the M4) compared to the levels of the road outside.  The study also found that in brief periods, levels of the pollutant reached higher than the European Union’s hourly legal limit.

There are an estimated 45.5 million active driving licences with the UK.  It is clearly a part of our lives.  You should not feel riddled with guilt each time you take to the wheel.  However, you should be mindful of the alternatives and the benefits of doing so.

If you must drive, there are a number of ways to reduce the environmental impact of driving:

  • Accelerate and brake smoothly;
  • Avoid using air conditioning;
  • Remove roof racks when they are not being used;
  • Remove excess luggage from the car;
  • Do not rush – 50mph is a lot more fuel efficient that 70mph;
  • Have your car serviced regularly;
  • Switch off your engine whenever you stop for more than a minute;
  • Plan your routes, reducing the distance that you drive.

… and remember to ask yourself if your vehicle is necessary or if you can just as easily opt for an environmental-friendly alternative.

Blog by Natalie Donald

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