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Pilot program investigates link between driving behavior and emissions

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March 12, 2008

Denver Driving Change program

Denver Driving Change program

March 13, 2008 The City of Denver has launched a pilot programmed designed to quantify the impact of driving behavior on fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. The Driving Change initiative will identify ways for drivers to reduce their emissions by measuring the environmental impact of driving behavior.

Driving Change uses a web-based management system and on-board device to capture driving data to help fleet and individual drivers reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Accelerometers connected to internal vehicle systems allow for the real-time measurement of a number of driving behaviors, including idling, speeding, fast stops and hard braking, which have a direct impact on fuel consumption. Performance reports, viewable via the Internet, help to educate drivers on how their driving patterns can potentially impact their individual carbon footprint.

By May 2008, Driving Change expects to have a total of 400 private and public vehicles involved in the study which is hoped will determine if there is a direct, measurable and positive correlation between driving behavior and CO2 emissions. While the pilot program does not directly measure GHG emissions, it will attempt, for the first time ever, to reveal that driving style does have an impact on the environment. For example, idling (where a vehicle is running while parked), is believed to consume one cup of fuel every five minutes. The cumulative effect of idling is estimated to result in the burning of 1.4 billion gallons of gasoline, emitting 13 million tons of CO2. Sounds like a great argument for buying an electric hybrid car! Rapid acceleration and hard braking can lower gas mileage by as much as 20%. The ability to measure and review idle time, rapid acceleration and hard braking is designed to help both individual and fleet drivers to see the impact of their behavior on the level of emissions for which they are responsible.

Considering that cars are still the fastest growing source of carbon dioxide production in the US, according to the EPA, driving less or switching to pedal power instead of fuel power are clearly greater ways to reduce car emissions. It should also be noted that the program’s lead sponsor is EnCana Oil & Gas, but every little bit counts in the fight against climate change and any steps to understand and minimize the damage we are doing whilst we are continue to rely on finite resources such as fossil fuels has value.

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