Van driving on a road

Driving Down The Bottom Line

If you drive for a living or run a fleet, you’ll know fuel costs are one of the big overheads in your business. But do you know it’s also a relatively low-hanging fruit when it comes to cutting costs?

By Shell on Nov. 11, 2020

A recent study by researchers at the US Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory found aggressive driving behaviour can increase fuel usage in light-duty vehicles by 10-40 per cent in city traffic and 15-30 per cent at highway speeds.

It’s not just fuel that can be saved, with other studies finding solid correlations between economical driving and better safety outcomes. If you want to squeeze more out of each tank, add these time-honoured fuel-saving techniques to your driving armoury.

1. Drive smoothly

It’s obvious but we also forget – that pedal on the right is essentially a tap feeding fuel into your engine. The best method is to squeeze your accelerator progressively or do what fuel-economy world-record holders do – pretend there’s a raw egg under the pedal.

Just as important is how you use the brake pedal. Repeated, unnecessary braking on the open road or in smooth-flowing traffic just means unnecessary acceleration.

The best way to drive smoothly is to use your vision and anticipation. If you look up the road rather than right in front, you’ll see traffic slowing and can ease up earlier or perhaps avoid stopping before it flows again. Accelerating from a standstill is a much bigger fuel-waster than doing so while rolling.

2. Choose the right gear

If you’re in too low a gear and the engine is revving harder than it needs to, you’re wasting fuel. By the same measure, if you’re in too high a gear and the engine is labouring, you’ll need plenty of throttle just to maintain momentum, which means you’ll use more fuel.

Revving the engine hard between gear changes is another big fuel-waster.

3. Minimise idling

A vehicle with an engine idling is literally burning fuel for nothing, which is why many newer models are fitted with stop/start technology. This cuts the engine at a standstill and automatically restarts it when you need to get going.

If your vehicle has this feature, engage it. If it doesn’t, try to minimise unnecessary idling. This doesn’t mean mimicking a stop/start system – something unnecessary and potentially dangerous – but turn the engine off if you’re stopped safely for any extended period of time.

4. Don’t speed

A car needs power just to cut through the air. As speeds rise, that air becomes more and more of an impost. A vehicle cruising at 110km/h can use up to 25 per cent more fuel than at 90km/h.

So, if it’s safe to do so, knock your cruising speed down. If you have cruise control, engage it. This technology isn’t just a licence-saver, it helps you avoid having any mental lapses where you slow down and need to accelerate back to cruising speed, burning fuel unnecessarily.


Viva Energy Australia Pty Ltd (“Viva Energy”) has compiled the above article for your general information and to use as a general reference. Whilst all reasonable care has been taken by Viva Energy in compiling this article, Viva Energy does not warrant or represent that the information in the article is free from errors or omissions or is suitable for your intended use.

Where information, recommendations, opinions or ideas have been sourced from third parties external to Viva Energy (Third Party Information), Viva Energy cannot be certain that the Third Party Information is accurate, current or complete, nor should a mention of any business, product, service or website of a third party be taken as a recommendation, approval or endorsement of, or warranty or claim regarding, that business, product, service or website.