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The environmental impact of driving

By Paul Baxter, 24th April 2024

Category: Environment

Did you know that transport produces 24% of the UK’s carbon emissions, based on the government’s statistics? According to research that we undertook with UK consumers, it seems that knowledge about the negative environmental impact of car use is growing, particularly amongst younger generations of motorists.

Our research found that motorists aged 18-24 are most likely to say that they are more aware of the environmental impact caused by driving their cars, with two thirds (67%) saying they are either a lot or a little more aware than they were a year ago.

This compares to just 31% of drivers aged 65 and above and 33% of drivers aged between 55 and 64 who have grown their awareness in the past year.

When asked whether their levels of awareness had grown over the past three years, almost three quarters (73%) of drivers aged 18-24 said they had, compared to 40% of drivers aged 65 plus and 49% of drivers aged 55-64, suggesting that the majority of younger drivers now accept that their driving behaviour impacts the environment.

This is borne out by the fact that overall, 79% of all drivers either already had a high level of understanding of environmental impacts, or had grown their awareness over recent years. Of the remainder, just 18% of drivers claimed not to have experienced any change in their awareness of environmental impacts, while the last 3% didn’t know.

It’s great to see that know-how about the impact of cars on our environment is being developed by younger generations of drivers in particular. However, we also need to see those thoughts transformed into positive action.

The kinds of behaviour that drivers can adopt include driving more slowly, reducing local car journeys, using more public transport and increasing car sharing.

The AA says that small changes to driving habits can make a big difference, and recommends that drivers take the following steps:

  • Avoid idling. Switch your engine off if you’re going to be parked for a while. This will also help you to use less fuel, saving money.
  • Drop your speed. Slower, steadier driving will help save fuel and reduce emissions.
  • Avoid short journeys. Try combining several shorter trips or consider walking or cycling.
  • Get your car serviced regularly, this should keep everything working as efficiently as it should.
  • Keep your tyres pumped up. Under-inflated tyres mean your car has to work harder and use more fuel.
  • Check devices are in good working order, like diesel particular filters (DPFs).

Finally, drivers can consider choosing a different insurance policy. Our policies are designed to make a big difference to motorists by helping to reduce premiums as a result of their more careful driving habits, leading in turn to lower fuel costs and carbon emissions.