Making better and less use of the car

According to the 2010 “Bad Air” Report by Legambiente, in 2009 57 out of 88 Italian cities breached the legal limits for PM10, the “fine particles” produced by urban traffic. This is just one of the effects of the exponential increase of cars and other motor vehicles on the streets of Italian cities. Another effect is the increased consumption of fuel, often wasted in endless traffic jams. And how about all the time spent circling around searching for car parks, resulting in more wasted fuel, vehicle wear and pollution?

One answer to this problem may be car sharing, e.g. the shared use of a car by several people who live in the same area or city. This is a scheme that can easily be arranged between colleagues who work in the same building, or between parents who send their children to the same school. There are also public car sharing networks, whereby you can hire a car on the Internet or over the phone, paying a subscription fee and an hourly or per kilometre rate. This services operates in Bologna, Florence, Genoa, Milan, Modena, Palermo, Parma, Rome, Savona, Turin and Venice and offers numerous benefits, such as the availability of special parking spaces.

We can also limit our vehicles’ fuel consumption and pollution by changing our driving style. Avoid sudden acceleration, instead increase your speed gradually and engage the next higher gear as soon as possible. Avoid sudden braking and drive at a moderate speed. Switch off the engine when stopping for longer periods. Avoid driving with the windows down on the motorway, as this adds to the vehicle’s aerodynamic drag and increases fuel consumption. Keep your tyres at the right pressure and use electrical devices and air conditioning only when necessary. It only takes a few steps to pollute less and drive more safely!