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Green Policies on Cars and Driving in Australia

By: Tracy Whitelaw - Updated: 28 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Driving Austalia Environment Green

Most visitors to Australia who are planning to do any kind of long-distance driving there, will usually be surprised at the sheer size of the country. When touring, it’s likely that you can go for miles on end without passing through an overly populated area, especially when you’re travelling in land. Even with the sparsely populated areas, Australia still has a large number of vehicles on the road and the government are very aware of the dangers this causes to the environment. Due to this, there are a number of policies and initiatives to encourage drivers to be more environmentally friendly where possible.

Australian Vehicle Statistics and Figures

With around 15 million vehicles on the road in Australia and 77% of that being passenger vehicles, it’s no surprise that the government are aiming to improve fuel consumption and emission levels. SUVs are very popular in Australia and often these emit some of the highest levels of CO2 in comparison to other family cars.

Most people still prefer petrol over diesel although around 3% of vehicles in Australia are now using LPG. It is stated that the transport sector in Australia is responsible for around 13.7% of their net greenhouse gas emissions which clearly leaves room for improvement. In order to make these improvements, the aim is to implement the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme which will begin in 2010. As Australia merely has a voluntary national average fuel consumption for passenger cars, there’s no legal obligation at present to cut your fuel consumption.

Australian Rules for Greener Driving

There are a number of essential tips provided by the Australian Government and driving authorities on how to be as environmentally friendly as possible when travelling in the country.

  • Plan your trip – Avoid traffic jams and congested areas. This leads to less stopping and starting which means that your car will be more fuel efficient as it’s idling less. In Australia, there’s congestion around the main cities, but generally it’s a great place to drive with long roads and easy flowing traffic
  • Keep your tyres inflated – Conserves fuel and reduces wear and tear. This is also important if you’re planning a long distance journey for safety reasons
  • Check your Air-Con – If you have any leaks, get them fixed. Some may contain chlorofluorocarbons. It can be unbearably hot in Australia during summer, so most people rely on their air-con. Use if it you need to, but for city driving, roll down the window
  • Tune your car – Not only will having a well-tuned car mean you get better distances out of it on less fuel, but also cars without proper tuning are prone to emit more pollutants
  • Remove excess weight – this will help your fuel consumption. The heavier your vehicle is, the more petrol it will need. If you hire a vehicle, only hire the size of vehicle you’ll need
  • Stick to the speed limit – this will lower your exhaust emissions in some circumstances and will help you avoid frequent mobile speed cameras

Hiring a Car in Australia

If you’re planning to go on a long road trip across Australia and are going to hire a car, there are some essential points to keep in mind before signing a contract.

  • Ask for a new car – new cars have lower emissions than older cars
  • Ask for a hybrid or LPG car – these are more environmentally friendly, but may cost more to hire
  • Ask if you can do carbon offsetting – Many companies offer this now to help with the environment.

It's always a good idea to research which car hire companies offer these type of green policies beforehand as it'll save you time and money searching them out when you're there. If you do decide to go with LPG, ask the hire company if they can provide you with a map of the area you're travelling in that shows which service stations sell LPG. Some don't have it available yet and it's important you plan your trip around that.

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