As many as 40,000 deaths in are caused by air pollution in the UK each year, according to a report by the Royal College of Physicians.
And the biggest offenders? Cars.
We know it’s not always practical to leave your vehicle at home, but the good news is that making some simple changes to the way you drive can have a dramatic effect on the air we breathe.
We’ve compiled a list of the worst dirty driving habits and how you can clean up your act. How many are you guilty of?
Vehicle idling is when you let an engine run unnecessarily, for example when you’re picking up a child at the school gates or making a delivery.
An idling engine can produce up to twice the emissions of a car that’s in motion!
A common worry is that stopping and starting will wear out your engine, but this is no longer a problem for modern vehicles. And if you think letting your engine run will keep your battery charged then you’ve fallen for another myth – modern car batteries will be fine.
Neglecting your vehicle
Not looking after your tyres can negatively affect the environment. If your air pressure is low, you force the engine to work harder and burn more fuel – this equals more emissions and expense.
Keep tires properly inflated and aligned and you’ll not only be helping local air quality, you’ll need fewer emergency repairs, and be safer on the road, too.
Don’t forget other car maintenance tasks. Servicing your car regularly will ensure it runs as efficiently and cleanly as possible.
Removing unnecessary heavy items will help reduce your engine’s workload so it burns less fuel and emits fewer harmful emissions. Hauling extra weight also takes its toll on your car’s braking system and suspension.
Consider removing a roof rack when not in use or objects like golf clubs and buggies if not used often.
Speeding and sudden accelerations guzzle fuel and cause wear-and-tear. ‘Jackrabbit’ starts at lights are particularly bad for this.
The Department for Transport says driving at a steady speed of 50mph instead of 70mph can improve fuel economy by 25 per cent, as well as reduce unnecessary emissions.
Accelerate gradually and anticipate stops so you can ease off and brake in advance.
Driving an old banger
Older cars, in general, are more polluting than newer cars.
We’re not suggesting you scrap your beloved old motor but, when the time comes and if you can afford to, consider replacing it with a more environmentally friendly model like a hybrid or electric car. These can cost a little more up-front but could offer savings on fuel and road tax.
If you’re not ready to go electric then the newest generation of cars – even diesel ones – are far less harmful to the environment than those that were produced a decade ago.
Sharing is caring – so says the mantra of primary school children everywhere.
Ride-sharing with a friend or colleague means one fewer car on the road, reduces pollution, alleviates congestion and can help you save money.