Eco-driving: photo of a woman inside a car
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Reducing road transport emissions with eco-driving

  • Transport
  • Commuting
  • Fleet
  • Car use rationalisation
  • Freight

Low-emission driving behavior, or eco-driving, can help reduce emissions from road transport vehicles at a low cost and provide additional benefits for road safety. Organisations can promote the incorporation of eco-driving techniques in their fleet operations by providing regular training modules for drivers and adopting in-vehicle technological solutions.  

Why is it important?

Road transportation contributes to about 17% of worldwide energy-related CO2emissions(1). Road freight transport is estimated to be the number one sector in energy consumption. Worldwide the sector consumes around 50% of all diesel produced and is responsible for 80% of global net increase in diesel use since 2000 (2). Moreover, road freight activity is expected to double between 2015 and 2050(2). While a host of possible alternatives are available and necessary to decarbonise the road freight sector including adoption of alternative transport, greener fuels, route optimization, fuel efficient technologies and switching to electric vehicles; driver training and assisted driving (or eco-driving) is an effective way of reducing emissions with low adoption barriers 

What is the solution?

Eco-driving is a set of driving practices that reduce fuel consumption and its associated emissions. It is a low-cost, quick win solution that has been adopted by a number of organisations already, and can be applied for mid and small-sized companies, and even private driving. Training modules on eco-driving and refresher courses will reinforce eco-driving behavior and ensure sustenance of long-term good practices. In-vehicle monitoring and feedback systems can be leveraged to aid knowledge on fuel consumption and review trip economy to reinforce eco-driving lessons. Additionally, strategies like gamification can be adopted through telematic systems to promote eco-driving. 

Key eco-driving practices

  • Point of attention

    Rebound effect – Improving the efficiency of energy use, instead of reducing fuel consumption, might encourage an increase in the number or distance of road trips. While eco-driving is meant to use less fuel on the same distance, it can also encourage to drive more kilometres with the same quantity of fuel. 

Key facts


Eco-driving trainings immediately reduce 20% in fuel consumption (6).

5 to 10%

fuel reduction: eco-trained drivers usually keep saving 5-10% fuel in the long term (7).


per ton of CO2 reducedcost of implementing eco-driving (8).

Key eco-driving practices: start slowly, avoiding rapid acceleration
Photo credit: Chuttersnap/Unsplash

Key actions

  • #1 Inform and educate

    Inform relevant staff about the reason why emission reduction is important. Enhance motivation and interest to participate in eco-driving training and to implement effectively the recommendations. Emphasize all benefits of eco-driving. Create an interest to promote and apply eco-driving in personal life.

  • #2 Seek expert trainers

    Make sure expert trainers provide the training. If not found locally, seek partners and organise joint trainings with external/international trainers. Consider training of trainers to build up local capacities.

  • #3 Implement practical eco-driving trainings

    Include practical eco-driving modules and refresher courses. Include eco-driving as part of driver recruitment and annual evaluation.

  • #4 Ensure long-term policy about eco-driving

    Eco-driving trainings are not a one-shot activity. It should become part of the organisation’s way of working to implement and maintain an eco-friendly driving behaviour. Make sure trainings are included in the budget every year and choose a referent.

  • #5 Promote Eco-routing

    Choose flattest roads with few traffic light or stops and prefer off-peak times for planned trips when possible. Eco-routing can participate in reducing fuel consumption by 10 to 25% (9).

  • #6 Implement incentives

    A strong motivation is to measure the positive impact of the effort made. Keep measuring and sharing the fuel and CO2 reduction. Propose incentive like competitions, games or financial rewards. For example, record driving scores on safe speeds, acceleration, and braking with eco-driving telematic systems like Ford’s EcoGuide dashboard (10) or Fiat’s Eco:Drive app (11).

  • #7 Use in-vehicle monitoring systems

    Use real-time metrics and retrospective feedback for information on fuel consumption through telematics or in-vehicle technologies like eco-driving feedback information systems (EDFIS) (12).

To consider

  • Potential co-benefits

    • Reduce fuel-consumption and associated greenhouse gas 
    • Increased road safety  
    • Preserve car condition 
    • Noise reduction 
    • Lower maintenance cost  
    • Cost savings through reduced fuel consumption  
    • Increased comfort for passengers 
  • Prerequisites

    • Availability of expert trainers 
    • Long term planning, imbedded in long-term strategy and practices, training plans and budgets 
  • Success conditions

    • Importance of practical training. Theorical recommendation are not enough to make a change in driving behaviour 
    • Refresher eco-driving training courses. Without refresher courses and incentives, drivers can return to some of their previous driving styles, thus reducing the long-term benefits of the training. 
    • Keeping interest and incentives for drivers and fleet managers – the motivation must be encouraged in the long term 
  • Potential risks

    • Rebound effect (see point of attention) 

Success stories

ECOWILL performed 10,000 eco-driving trainings and saved 7.5% fuel consumption, 2013

The ECOWILL project :ECOdriving – Widespread Implementation for Learner Drivers and Licensed Drivers” of the European Commission carried out eco-driving training courses and train-the-trainer seminars between 2010 and 2013 with 15 expert organisations. The reduction in fuel consumption is estimated to be around 15% (13).

UK transport STAGECOACH cuts 14% emission and rewards eco-drivers champions, 2020

UK-based transport group Stagecoach has cut 14% of its transport-related emissions. Eco-driving trainings were supported by GreenRoad 360 onboard system and incentives like “green points” that are converted into financial benefits (14).

Case studies on national eco-driving programmes, 2021

Results and lessons learnt from nation-wide programs to mainstream eco-driving among private and professional drivers, with examples from the Netherlands, North America, Australia, Japan, Peru, Argentina, Mexico, Chile, Costa Rica and Brazil.

Eco-driving in road freight transport in Mexico, 2016

Eco-driving courses were introduced in Mexico as a mandatory part of the license process taken by road haulers every two years. The courses represent mitigation potential of 5-35% per participant. The program includes videos on eco-driving and a national network of trainers (15).

Tools and good practices

  • Fleet Forum’s Eco-driving Training Guide

    The Fleet Forum guide on eco-driving presents the key techniques and practices which can be adopted by drivers to enhance fuel efficiency. It includes a template for an eco-driving license and a checklist for drivers.

    Explore here
  • International Road Transport Union ECO-driving course

    The International Road Transport Union (IRU) offers a one-day course on ECO-driving followed by a period of driver performance monitoring using the web-based ECO-Driving Training System. This allows driver behaviour to be measured objectively and its impact on fuel consumption analysed. Participants receive an ECO-Driving certificate when they have completed the course.

    Explore here
  • Low emission eco-driving training video for heavy duty vehicles

    Funded under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme, the video provides low-emission driving tips for professional drivers of heavy-duty vehicles. It is geared towards truck drivers, but learnings can be applied by bus and coach drivers.

    Explore here
  • Eco-driving toolkit for trucks, 2020

    “Changing transport” is an organisation working towards a sustainable future of transport. The eco-driving toolkit provides experiences from around the world, offers tools for planning and implementation and makes training materials available.

    Explore here
  • Guidelines for National Eco-driving Initiatives

    Presents guidelines focussing on the sustainable and energy-efficient use of motorised vehicles (particularly cars, trucks and buses). Whilst the document is geared towards governments, many of the recommendations can also be applied by organisations.

    Explore here
  • Guidelines and handbook on eco-driving

    Explore here

To go further

  • Policy brief on Eco-driving, Odysee-Mure, 2021

    Brief for policymaker to implement eco-driving.

    Explore here
  • MODALES Guidelines on low emission driving

    Reducing air pollution from all types of on-road vehicles by encouraging adoption of low-emission driving behaviour and proper maintenance choice.

    Explore here
  • A review of gamified approaches to encouraging eco-driving, 2022

    Explore here


(1) Jaramillo, P., S. Kahn Ribeiro, P. Newman, S. Dhar, O.E. Diemuodeke, T. Kajino, D.S. Lee, S.B. Nugroho, X. Ou, A. Hammer Strømman, J. Whitehead, 2022: Transport. In IPCC, 2022: Climate Change 2022: Mitigation of Climate Change. Contribution of Working Group III to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change[P.R. Shukla, J. Skea, R. Slade, A. Al Khourdajie, R. van Diemen, D. McCollum, M. Pathak, S. Some, P. Vyas, R. Fradera, M. Belkacemi, A. Hasija, G. Lisboa, S. Luz, J. Malley, (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK and New York, NY, USA. doi: 10.1017/9781009157926.012  

(2) Liv, ‘Towards Road Freight Decarbonisation’. in ITF, 2018. Available here.

(3) Wengraf, I. (2012). Easy on the Gas: The effectiveness of eco-driving. RAC Foundation. Available here.

(4) Şoica, A, A Budală, & IS Comănescu, ‘Tyres influence on vehicle fuel economy’. in IOP Conference Series: Materials Science and Engineering, 997, 2020, 012134. Available here.

(5) Sigurjonsdottir, SS, AK Elnes, & KC Couto, ‘Turn off your engine: Reducing idling amongst professional truck drivers’. in Transportation Research Interdisciplinary Perspectives, 15, 2022, 100654. Available here.

(6) Fleet Forum. (n.d.). Clean Fleet Toolkit.; Fleet Forum Association. Retrieved April 8, 2024. Available here.

(7) Jellinek, R, & T Bogner, ‘Eco-driving & CO2 emissions | Smart or modern driving initiatives | Policy brief | ODYSSEE-MURE’. in, 2021. Available here.

(8) Wang, Y., & Boggio-Marzet, A. (2018). Evaluation of Eco-Driving Training for Fuel Efficiency and Emissions Reduction According to Road Type. Sustainability, 10(11), 3891. Available here.

(9) Fafoutellis, P, EG Mantouka, & EI Vlahogianni, ‘Eco-Driving and Its Impacts on Fuel Efficiency: An Overview of Technologies and Data-Driven Methods’. in Sustainability, 13, 2020, 226. Available here.

(10) Inbar, O., Tractinsky, N., Seder, T., & Tsimhoni, O. (2011). Driving the Scoreboard: Motivating Eco-Driving Through In-Car Gaming . In Gamification Research Network. Available here.

(11) Stavros, N., Lalos, A. S., Tselios, C., Bitzas, D., Amaxilatis, D., Chatzigiannakis, I., Gerasimos, A., & Moustakas, K. (2018). Gamification of EcoDriving Behaviours through Intelligent Management of Dynamic Car and Driver Information. OPPORTUNITIES and CHALLENGES for European Projects. Available here.

(12) Gimpel, H., Heger, S., & Wöhl, M. (2022). Sustainable behavior in motion: designing mobile eco-driving feedback information systems. Information Technology and Management. Available here.

(13) ECOWILL. (2013). ECODRIVING Short-duration training for licensed drivers and integration into driving education for learner drivers Experiences and results from the ECOWILL project. ECOWILL. Available here.

(14) Hemming, R. (2011, March 17). Stagecoach Multi-Million-Pound Investment in Eco-Driving Technology. GreenRoad. Available here.

(15) GIZ. (n.d.). Road Freight Transport NAMA in Mexico . Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). Available here.

Photo credits: William Bout/Unsplash