Smarter Driving slashes fuel use at City Council

Organisations involved:

Oxford City Council


Oxford City Council achieved a 17% reduction in fuel use in their fleet vehicles by investing in Smarter Driving Courses for their staff.  Payback period for the project was just one month.


In 2009, Oxford City Council’s focus was very much on reducing our own carbon emissions as part of our then carbon management plan ‘Getting Our House in Order’. We set ourselves a target of reducing our emissions by 25% by 2011 against a baseline of 2005/6.  With transport being responsible for a significant percentage of our overall emissions (refuse vehicles, fleet vehicles, vans for operational and highways staff etc) we were keen to address driver behaviour as well as vehicle fuel efficiency.

Solution/Action Taken:

We put all 330 of our registered drivers through the Energy Saving Trust’s Smarter Driving training scheme – delivered by Drivesense. The trainers came to our site and trained staff in their own vehicles – recording the average MPG on three short test drives; once before training to assess normal driving, once during training being shown exemplar driving techniques; and once after training to see the drivers put their learning into action. The increase in MPG for each driver was calculated and there was a healthy level of competition between drivers wanting to get the best MPG score.

Bookings were handled by our own staff and the training was made mandatory for all Council drivers.


Outcomes and Benefits Delivered:

Our staff responded really positively to the training and all showed a big improvement in the fuel efficiency of their driving after this very short session. A league table of fuel efficient drivers – based on ongoing MPG monitoring – was established and kept staff motivated. The improvement shown by our staff was sustained and amounted to an overall 17% saving in fuel over the next 12 months.

This level of reduction would save the council an estimated £69,000 per year and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by over 150 Tonnes per year. For a total investment of £5,000, the scheme had a simple payback of 4 weeks. The Smarter Driving Schemes

We won an Energy Saving Trust Fleet Heroes award for this initiative which saved the Council nearly £70,000 in the first year in fuel costs.

Lessons Learned/Conclusion:

This was an extremely successful initiative with great staff support and an extremely short payback period. It’s really important to keep the momentum going after something like this and having a ‘league table’ running afterwards to reward fuel efficient driving is one way of keeping staff motivated.

It also worth mentioning that fixing up the appointments for staff training and chasing staff to attend is very time consuming. We made appointments for staff and the training was mandatory – this was much better than asking staff to book themselves on and we had a great uptake rate. Don’t underestimate the time this will take if you have a large number of drivers to train.

Contact for further information:

Jennifer Carr, Partnerships and Engagement Officer,, 01865 252564

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