From hourly rentals to longer-term assigned vehicles, UC Davis Fleet Services is a well-utilized department here on campus. In March alone, almost 800 vehicles were in use by faculty, staff, students, and others.
With Earth Day coming up on April 22 and the condition of the environment as a reminder, we encourage drivers on and off campus to consider changes they can make that help reduce carbon emissions.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, two ways drivers can reduce pollution from vehicles include:
- Driving wisely
- Idle Reduction
Driving wisely entails avoiding hard acceleration because the harder you accelerate the more fuel you are using. During acceleration, consider taking five seconds to reach your designated speed. The State of California DMV recommends, “Drive like there is an egg under the gas pedal by pressing evenly and gently on the accelerator.” They also comment that “Safe driving is smooth driving.” This gentle tactic will also save you money at the gas station as well as aid in the prevention of wear and tear on drivetrain components in the vehicle. Drivers should consider a steady driving pace, as changes in speed can also increase fuel use. The DMV proposes to use cruise control when possible to support a steady pace, especially on the highway.
Another way to reduce pollution is idle reduction. This action is easy to achieve and will save fuel/money while contributing to reducing carbon emissions. Simply turn off your engine when parked or at the very least, limit the amount of idle time. A handful of states restrict car idling to three or five minutes, “Idling causes a lot of particle pollution—about 5,000 tons every year,” according to the EPA. So next time you go to warm up your car, consider this: "Manufacturers will say about 30 seconds and then you can start driving. Most cars are engineered now so they'll actually warm up faster if you drive them than if you just let it sit there," (USA Today).
Here at UC Davis, the campus policy states, (PPM 300-30 –Responsibilities –III. Driver A. item 5.) “Must ensure the vehicle does not idle in excess of five minutes with the following exceptions:
- When required for safety.
- To complete a function of the vehicle.
- For servicing, testing, or maintenance.
- To regenerate diesel exhaust filters.
- When required by the vehicle manufacturer to warm the engine to operating temperature
So if your idling does not fall under the exceptions mentioned, then please limit idling to five minutes or less. Remember, you are the driver of your vehicle and the driver of change. Keep in mind, one gallon of gasoline equates to 20 pounds of CO2. When you take steps to drive wisely as well as avoid excessive idling, you are saving money and the environment.