The price of petrol may have gone up from August 1, but simple changes in your driving behaviour can lock your fuel spend at pre-deregulation prices, or even save you some money compared to what you may be shelling out before the prices were market-linked.
It may not be obvious looking at the number of drivers seemingly racing against the clock and whizzing past you on Sheikh Zayed Road, but any car’s mileage decreases once it gets past its optimal speed.
For most cars, this is around 90-100kmph (55-60mph). This means that every time you step over the accelerator and go past the 100kmph-mark, you’re losing cash, wasting petrol and, perhaps the most important, unnecessarily adding to greenhouse gases.
According to MPGforSpeed.com, a slight decrease in your driving speed can significantly reduce your petrol consumption, while only adding a few minutes to your travel time.
In other words, as the speed of your car increases, its efficiency drops, taking your hard-earned money with it.
“Displaying a smooth driving style and sticking to speed limits will benefit our petrol expenses and it will also increase road safety. Lower fuel consumption also benefits the environment by reduced carbon dioxide emissions,” says Thomas Edelmann, Founder and Managing Director of RoadSafetyUAE.
“Driving behaviours don’t need to drastically change in order to maximise your fuel efficiency,” adds Trevor Hale, director of communications for Ford Middle East & Africa. “There are many simple things you can do – and you should do – that will help you go further with every fill-up and reduce the number of trips you make to the petrol station,” he maintains.
MPGforSpeed.com has a calculator that will let you know the amount of money you’re wasting by cruising at 80mph (128kmph) instead of 55mph (88kmph).
According to the site, a typical car has a highway mileage of 22 miles per gallon, or about 9.3 km per litre. It notes, however, that this mileage is calculated at 55mph (88kmph), and the car becomes less and less fuel efficient as the speed increases.
According to it, your car will be 3 per cent less efficient at 60mph (96.5kmph), 8 per cent less efficient at 65mph (104.5kmph), 17 per cent less efficient at 70mph (112.5kmph) and 23 per cent less efficient at 75mph (120.5kmph).
However, if you go even beyond this, your car will be 28 per cent less efficient at 80mph (128.5kmph), resulting in quite a bit of unnecessary spend not to mention the road risk you’ll be taking on yourself as well as creating for others at that speed.
But just how much fuel money are we talking about. Let’s do the math.
Let’s take a car with a typical mileage (22mpg or 9.3kmpl), a daily journey of 50km one way, or 100km return, and the fuel price of Dh2.14 per litre (Special, 95 octane).
If you keep your car at the suggested speed limit of 55mph (88.5kmph) for the journey, it will reward you by running at the typical mileage, and you’ll reach your destination in 34 minutes (one way). In addition, your petrol spend will be less than Dh23 per day, or Dh8,312 per year.
If, however, you decide to go at 80mph (128.5kmph), you’ll reach your destination in just 23.5 minutes – a difference of over 10 minutes. However, in these 23.5 minutes, your car will be much less fuel-efficient (not to mention the additional engine and tyre wear-and-tear that it will face), and will guzzle petrol worth a little less than Dh32 per day, or Dh11,570 per year.
The time difference between the two journeys is about 10 minutes one way, but the latter will fork out an additional Dh3,257 from your pocket in just petrol cost per year.
Be sure that there will be other running costs of the car that will go up, not to mention the numerous fines that you’ll accumulate if you drive your car at that speed.
"There is a direct link between speed and fuel consumption, and a smooth driving style saves much more petrol versus an aggressive one, like engine revving, sharp acceleration and sharp braking patterns,” says RoadsafetyUAE’s Edelmann.
“Vehicle maintenance, running our engines unnecessarily, car utilisation and new technologies also impact our fuel consumption,” he adds.
In addition, there are certain misgivings that people may have regarding what leads to fuel-saving. According to Ford Middle East, there’s a common perception that driving with your windows open uses less fuel than driving while using your air conditioning. This is not true, it maintains. "Driving with windows open at freeway speeds creates drag and uses more fuel than driving with windows closed and the air con running," the carmaker explained in a media statement.
In addition, it notes that loading your car with unnecessary items also leads to more fuel consumption. Be sure to remove unneeded items from your vehicle (such as golf clubs, baby strollers, work equipment) if you’re not going to use them, it recommends. The lighter your vehicle, the better the fuel efficiency.
Here are some additional tips and tricks offered by RoadSafetyUAE to reduce fuel consumption:
• Avoid speeding and adhere to the speed limits
• Mind your driving style: avoid revving up on short distances (e.g., to the next red light) and display an anticipating, smooth and defensive driving style
• Maintain your vehicle well: proper tires and proper tire pressure, engine maintenance (air filter, thermostats, fuel injectors, ignition system)
• Don’t run your engine unnecessarily
• Car utilisation: Drive the car type/size and engine size that best suits your needs and consider car sharing / rotation (for example for daily commuters)
• Use public transportation
• Plan your trips well and combine your journeys to reduce the amount of driving
• Utilise new technologies: maintenance alerts, tire pressure alerts, start/stop function at red lights, Hybrid cars, etc.