Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Using your vehicles efficiently

Use vehicles efficiently

Your business can benefit from using vehicles in a safer and more fuel-efficient way. This will limit your vehicle emissions and lower your transport costs by reducing your insurance premiums. See the page in this guide on the benefits of reducing your vehicle emissions.

Safer driving means fewer injuries and fatalities, less accident damage to vehicles and less unproductive downtime for vehicle repair. You should manage the risks from using your vehicles and:

  • develop and implement driving for work policies
  • address staff training needs
  • maintain your vehicles

Driving for Better Business (DfBB) Advice on driving for work policies 

Fleetsafe: Support in developing and implementing fleet safety programmes  

Use vehicles efficiently

You can use fuel more efficiently by:

  • making sure that tyres are inflated to the correct pressure
  • removing any unnecessary clutter from vehicles
  • keeping vehicle speed down, eg it can cost up to 25 per cent more to drive at 70 miles per hour (mph) compared to 50mph - driving at 50-60mph produces the lowest emissions
  • avoiding harsh braking and acceleration
  • switching off the engine when at a standstill for more than three minutes
  • using air conditioning and other onboard electrical devices such as mobile phone chargers sparingly as this increases fuel consumption
  • pre-planning routes - you can reduce the impact of journeys by using less congested routes and avoiding peak travel times
  • avoiding using vehicles for short journeys, eg combining several short trips into one longer one - cold engines use 60 per cent more fuel per mile than warm engines

Consider whether flexible working practices could reduce your use of vehicles. This could include:

  • working from home
  • working flexible hours
  • teleconferencing or videoconferencing
  • providing incentives for car-sharing
  • using meeting venues that are easily accessible by public transport

Energy Saving Trust (Northern Ireland): Reducing the environmental impact of your fleet

Energy Saving Trust (Scotland): Making your fleet more sustainable

Train vehicle drivers

Training your employees to drive efficiently can reduce your fuel use and make your staff safer. For example, a one-day Efficient Driving course for van or heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers could help save up to £500 of fuel per vehicle per year, depending on mileage.

The Energy Saving Trust can help with driver education.

Energy Saving Trust (Northern Ireland): Fuel-efficient driving

Energy Saving Trust (Scotland): Fuel-efficient driving tips

Maintain vehicles

Maintain commercial vehicles in good working order so that they work efficiently. You should:

  • service all your vehicles regularly
  • inflate your tyres correctly as under-inflated tyres can increase fuel consumption by up to 3 per cent
  • remove roof bars and other items when you do not need them
  • monitor fuel consumption to help detect problems early
  • check that the exhaust system is in good working order

In this guideline

Using your vehicles efficiently

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Permits

NIEA - Apply online

SEPA - Application forms