Cutting vehicle usage has always been a largely talked about topic within global warming and climate change discourse and is seemingly a no-brainer when discussing emissions production. It’s proven to save you money, improve your health and improve the quality of life of everyone.
By changing your habits, road traffic and vehicle usage can be reduced as individuals and businesses can make a difference. Cars and vans are useful in some situations and essential in others, especially as a business owner. However, avoiding unnecessary trips, choosing local shop, grouping deliveries and orders together and deciding upon alternative modes of transport are all beneficial in reducing your vehicle use.
What are the benefits of cutting vehicle usage?
There are several personal and global benefits. Air quality within a car can be three-times as toxic as air breathed in by someone using alternate modes of transport, such as cycling or walking. Pollution is concentrated on our roads and exhaust fumes are poisonous, leading to the potential development of asthma and increased mortality.
It could also benefit your own personal fitness level – cycling and walking give you an increased opportunity for exercise. Walking is great at lowering blood pressure, reducing body fat and increasing bone mass. 20 miles a week of cycling cut the risk of coronary heart disease by up to 50%. Lastly, the use of backroads and paths during these exercises reduces your exposure to harmful noise levels and pollution.
Congestion charges are likely to become more widespread meaning there is a financial benefit. In London, there is a £15 a day charge on city-centre driving. The enforcement of this charge has been successful in reducing traffic by 20%. With the ‘registered interest’ of 35 local authorities in introducing a similar congestion charge, including consideration from major cities like Edinburgh and Glasgow. Motorway charging is also under discussion with an increase in toll roads across the country, with one set motorway charging scheme already in place.
The switch to electric and hybrid vehicles is also promoted as they reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions drastically from cars and vans that run on petrol or diesel, which are also volatile in nature. These vehicles are cost-effective too as fuel prices are volatile at best – cutting out fuel costs and switching to an electric vehicle is much more economically viable as we switch to greener technologies.
The need to be ‘greener’ is becoming more apparent and socially beneficial. Road transport is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions, driving climate change even further.
What are the alternatives?
Walking is the cheapest option – it is healthy, exposes you to one third of fumes and benefits you socially by meeting people on your journey. Walking maps are becoming increasingly common and provide highlighted routes to those who decide to walk to their destination.
Cycling and electric bikes
Cycling is also a great alternative to driving. Modern, lightweight bicycles are easily rideable and transportable if a combination of public transport is needed. Journey times are increasingly reliable, plus it is a healthy way of getting around with little risk posed to others.
Power assisted bicycles are also an option – they are more powerful against hills and headwinds. They also further improve the reliability and efficiency of a journey, averaging around 15 miles between charges. There is also the opportunity for mileage allowance tax relief up to 20p per mile on business travel when their own bicycles are utilises and this same rule applies to those who are self-employed.
Public transport and taxis
Taxis are convenient, readily available and journeys tend to be quicker as they are eligible to use bus lanes. Many train stations also have car link schemes in place for travel from rail stations.
Carpooling is a method of transport that still involves the use of a car but diminishes traffic on the road. Organised carpooling or lift-sharing benefits you, the community, and the environment through reducing travel costs, lessening congestion, and solving public transport issues. If you are carpooling, splitting the fuel costs between passengers could cover your fuel costs.
If you consider the distance travelled, miles per gallon, fuel price and how many passengers are in the car – you can calculate how much the journey cost per person in the vehicle. In doing so, you save money and reduce the number of cars on the road which is better for the environment.
Cutting your vehicle usage is an easy decision to make for any business. There are several alternatives that can also save you money and provide health benefits. Setting yourself targets to make the transition to minimal car usage is beneficial in monitoring your progress. Lastly, in the world of sustainable procurement, purchasing an electric or hybrid vehicle for your company will reduce your company’s environmental impact. Overall, it is a no-brainer to take steps to reduce your car or van usage and switch to greener travel methods.