Driving safely thanks to an eco-friendly style
'Eco driving tips’ introduce a different approach to driving safely that focuses on efficient car handling. Over the years, car technology has improved considerably and as a result, drivers need to adopt a different driving style. To ensure that you handle your car responsibly, Arval recommends that you drive according to the principles of its ‘Eco driving tips’. This consists of a number of useful driving recommendations that will enable you to save up to 20% in fuel. These fuel savings will both benefit the environment and lower costs for your employer.
Driving safely while following our ‘eco driving tips’ :
Tip 1: Shift up as soon as possible
Shift up to a higher gear as soon as possible, but at the optimum speed for the available torque. For a diesel engine, on flat roads, you can change gears between 1,500 and 2,000 rpm. For a petrol engine, the gear shift is best performed between 2,000 and 2,500 rpm. Please note that driving safely means changing gear earlier depending on the gear position. With a 1.6-litre direct-injection diesel engine, shifting from 2nd to 3rd will take place at 1,800 rpm, while shifting from 5th to 6th can take place from 1,300 rpm.
Tip 2: Roll out
Driving safely also means decelerating rather than braking when you need to slow down or stop, for example at a red light. To do this, release the accelerator at the appropriate time while keeping the gear in position and let the car keep going. When the car has already lost a lot of speed, shift down without touching the accelerator to continue decelerating on the engine brake. The car will then slow down naturally.
If your car has an injection engine, the fuel consumption during deceleration will be zero thanks to the injection cut-off. If you drive a hybrid car, releasing the accelerator won’t slow down the vehicle in the same way as with a full combustion engine. The engine will shut off, but the vehicle will continue to run. To activate the engine brake, you’ll need to touch the brake pedal.
Tip 3: 80 in fifth
Driving safely means driving at a constant speed and low rpm in as high a gear as possible. Modern engines make it possible to drive at 85 km/h in 6th gear on the flat without any problem.
Tip 4: Tyre pressure
Driving safely means driving on tyres with the right pressure. Check the tyre pressure every month.
Check the pressure with the tyres "cold", i.e. after a long stop or a trip of less than 10 km. The recommended pressure levels can be found in the driver's door opening or in the vehicle's technical manual. Don’t forget to adjust the pressure according to the load of the vehicle.
Tip 5: Anticipate
Another simple gesture for safe driving: look as far ahead as possible to anticipate what's going to happen on the road.
By anticipating the decelerations in front of you, you'll be able to decelerate without having to apply the brake too much, which will trigger the injection cut-off. Fuel consumption will then be zero. On the contrary, heavy braking inevitably leads to a huge loss of energy. Deceleration also allows a smoother and more gradual recovery.
Tip 6: Turn off your engine
Turn your engine off when stationary, including when you’re standing in front of a raised bridge or closed crossing, in a traffic jam, while waiting to pick up a passenger, etc. Then restart without putting your foot to the floor.
Most modern cars are equipped with Stop & Start. This system puts the engine on standby when the car is at a standstill. Warning: the system won’t activate if you keep a gear in position while disengaging the clutch. So when you’re stationary, put your gear in neutral, with your foot on the brake and not on the clutch.
Tip 7: Use on-board equipment
Driving safely is made easy for you if you use on-board equipment such as the tachometer, cruise control, trip computer or GPS to plan your trip as much as possible.
Newer models of cars also provide real-time traffic information. Again, plan ahead to avoid inconveniences such as slowdowns and traffic jams.
Tip 8: Avoid ‘wasting fuel
In addition to the type of car and your driving style, your fuel consumption also depends on other factors such as speed, the use of various equipment, air resistance and weight on board. Pay attention to all of these aspects, which can be gas-guzzlers.
Tip 9: - Reduce your speed, maintain a constant speed
Driving safely clearly means adjusting your speed, but did you know that it is the best way of reducing your fuel consumption? For example, try to drive at 110 instead of 120 km/h on the motorway. If you reduce your speed by 10 km/h, you will consume considerably less fuel. This is because the ratio between fuel consumption and speed is exponential.
Also, try to drive at a constant speed as much as possible. Frequent engine speed changes will increase fuel consumption significantly.
Your personal safety is very important to Arval. It is our task to make sure your car is in optimum shape so that it is safe for you to take to the road. However, as a driver you also play an important role when it comes to driving safely. Arval recommends that you observe the following tips, to ensure that you have a safe journey and that the chances of a collision – with possible bodily injury as a result – are kept to a minimum.
Driving safely = always wearing your safety belt.
It may seem obvious that you need to wear a safety belt. However, a large number of drivers indicate that they regularly drive without a safety belt. Wearing a safety belt ensures that you stay in your chair in the event of a collision and limits the risk of becoming injured.
Driving safely = regularly checking your tyre pressure
If your tyres are under-inflated, your car has less grip on the road. This results in an extended brake path and increased risk of skidding. Therefore, you should check your tyre pressure at least once a month. Furthermore, you save considerably on fuel if your car’s tyres have the correct pressure.
Driving safely = keeping enough distance
Maintain a safe following distance to the car in front of you. This allows you to respond quickly to the manoeuvres of the car in front of you – when it suddenly brakes, for instance.
Driving safely = avoiding telephone conversations in your car
Nowadays, many cars are fitted with a car kit. However, making hands-free calls is not without its dangers either. When you talk on the phone you pay less attention to the traffic around you. You should preferably have your telephone conversations at home or at work.
Driving safely = adjusting your driving style to the weather conditions
In the event of mist, heavy rain or other conditions that lead to minimal visibility, be sure to reduce your speed and double your following distance to the car in front of you. Do not brake abruptly, but gradually reduce your speed. Keep to the right as much as possible. In the event of an emergency you can move onto the hard shoulder or the verge.
Driving safely = avoiding putting loose items on the rear shelf.
Many drivers use the rear shelf as a storage area for various items – an umbrella, an A-to-Z or a bottle of soft drink. If there is a collision or the driver needs to break suddenly, these seemingly harmless items can be propelled with such force that they can cause serious injuries.
Driving safely = keeping an eye on special signage
Signs located above or along the side of the road can call your attention to extraordinary conditions. Examples include a short slip road, the possibility to filter in turn or a local change to the speed limit. If you see such a sign, immediately anticipate the revised traffic situation.
Driving safely = planning your itinerary
Determining your itinerary before you leave will prevent you from having to focus your attention on finding the right route. This means you will pay more attention to the traffic around you and you won’t have to make any unforeseen manoeuvres.
Driving safely = making sure that you have an emergency hammer on board
Most cars have electronically operated windows. These often jam if the car ends up in the water. This is why Arval recommends that you fit your car with an emergency hammer. In emergencies, you can use this hammer to break the window and safely escape from your car.
Driving safely - reflecting safety jacket
In order to increase the safety, carrying a reflecting safety jacket is compulsory for a driver who leaves his broken-down car or when he is involved in an accident. Because of this, the driver becomes more visible, up to a distance of approximately 300 metres. The safety jacket is not compulsory for all passengers. After all, they are best protected when they position themselves at a certain distance behind the crash barrier. This instruction was introduced as a rule of conduct, though it assumes that the use of the fluorescent vest forces you to carry one in your car.
Driving safely with winter tyres and snow chains
Driving safely with a tow bar
1. Useful information about driving safely with tow bars for towing light trailers (max. 750 kg)
When? When installing the towbar
By whom? By the installer
And then when? After 4 years, together with the car.
The tow bar:
- is covered by liability insurance and the legal protection of the car.
- is covered even if the trailer is not connected to the car.
- has the same number plate as the car.
2. Useful information about driving safely with tow bars for towing trailers with a maximum permitted mass of more than 750 kg
When? When installing the tow bar
By whom? By the installer
And then when? Annually.
Compulsory supplementary insurance for the trailer.
- not compulsory but preferably with the same insurance company.
- competitive rates for drivers of an Arval car.
- the trailer has a special licence plate
In the event of an accident:
- if the trailer is connected to the car during the accident, the car insurance will cover the costs.
- if the trailer is not connected to the car during the accident, the additional insurance of the trailer will cover the costs.
Attention! If the tow bar is not reported to Arval, the insurance company may decide not to cover any accidents.
Driving safely abroad
Driving safely during a trip abroad requires extra attention. Not only due to the long distances involved, but certainly also because each country has its own regulations. The most important thing is to be well prepared before departing.
A long drive ahead? Car heavily loaded? In that case, check your tyre pressure beforehand. Thanks to this, you will drive more comfortably, more economically and more safely. You will find the recommended tyre pressure in the instruction booklet of your car.
Oil level, windscreen wiper liquid and coolant
Before your departure, check the oil level and the level of your windscreen wiper liquid and coolant. Every 500 kilometres, check the oil and put an extra litre in your trunk.
Please ensure that the country you are travelling to is listed on the green card inserted in your car’s booklet. Make sure that you are actually taking this card with you on your journey.
If you are travelling outside the Schengen area or the European Union, or if you are travelling on the grounds of international airports and stations, you must always have a traffic permit in the form of a certificate. You can submit an application via www.rentadrive.org and follow the instructions to complete the document. Take into account a processing time of 3 to 5 working days. We recommend that you print the certificate in colour and in multiple copies (for example in triplicate).
For every new journey a new certificate is to be drawn up. It is important to realise that without the traffic admission certificate, the car could be confiscated by the authorities in charge.
If you are leaving for Germany, don't forget the 'Umweltsticker' or eco-vignette.
If you are leaving for France, check whether your Radar Warning Receiver System is legal.
Accessories that are obligatory
In a number of countries, you must have an emergency triangle, a first-aid box and/or a safety vest. For tourists, this obligation applies only in a number of cases. Here is an overview of the most popular holiday destinations:
Table 1 Warning triangle
& safety vest
first-aid kit fire extinguisher compulsory not compulsory France compulsory not compulsory not compulsory Italy compulsory not compulsory not compulsory Luxembourg compulsory not compulsory not compulsory Austria compulsory compulsory not compulsory Portugal compulsory not compulsory not compulsory Spain compulsory niet verplicht niet verplicht United Kingdom compulsory not compulsory not compulsory Switzerland compulsory not compulsory not compulsory
Hold your horses !
Speeding is punishable in Belgium, just like it is in other European countries. Not all countries apply the same standards regarding speed limits, however. Here’s a summary table showing the speeds applicable in neighbouring countries:
Table 2 km/h In urban areas On A roads On motorways Germany 50 100 130 France 50 90 of 110 130 Italy 50 90 of 110 130 Luxembourg 50 90 130 Austria 50 100 130 Portugal 50 90 of 110 130 Spain 50 90 of 110 120 United Kingdom 48 96 of 112 112
Driving safely with winter tyres and snow chains
> For more information on this subject, visit the section dedicated to winter tyres on our website .
Driving safely in winter conditions
Every year, when winter sneaks up on us, everybody fears the bad weather and slippery roads. Yet, a few good reflexes can help you drive safely through the winter. Here are some tips to drive serenely through the winter:
Driving safely = Driving behaviour
At the wheel, extra vigilance is necessary in difficult conditions. Choose gentle manoeuvres over sudden movements.
When driving through curves, keep the steering wheel movements flexible and constant. If you are driving a front-wheel drive car and the back of your car slides, slowly accelerate to restore the balance. If your car is rear-wheel drive, release the clutch, ease off the gas pedal and counter-steer. The golden rule: always look in the direction you want to go.
While braking, do not hesitate to use engine braking to avoid skidding. During skidding, you lose control of your car; to restore the grip, release the brake pedal and brake again. Please note that a humid surface is two times more slippery than a dry one; a snow-covered surface will be four and a frozen surface eight times more slippery!
On the slopes, when the wheels start to spin, shift into higher gear. The front or rear wheel drive force will decrease, thus increasing the grip of your car.
Driving safely = Tyres
Proper tyre inflation is predominant during cold weather. Indeed, the lower the temperature, the lower the measured pressure. Therefore, during cold weather, always add 0.2 bar to the indicated pressure.
Winter tyres may prove very useful.
> For more information on this subject, visit the section dedicated to winter tyres on our website.
Driving Safely = Car maintenance
The golden rule both in winter and in summer is high visibility so do not hesitate to regularly wash your car. In addition, a dirty car will be more susceptible to frost. Also be aware that salt for icy roads causes corrosion to your bodywork.
We also recommend that you:
- use the windscreen wiper liquid suited for temperatures up to -30°C
- check the condition of your battery
- treat the rubber seals on your doors with an adequate grease to keep them from freezing.
Driving safely = The necessary equipment
Below are a few helpful tools during periods of extreme cold:
- an ice scraper
- a lock defrost spray
- one or more blankets in case of car failure.
Good to know
- Avoid using the handbrake in case of extreme cold as frost might paralyse it. Preferably shift into gear.
- Make sure your wipers are not frozen to your windshield before activating them, as this might damage the wiper engine.
- Never put a newspaper on your windshield to avoid it from freezing overnight. The paper may become humid before it freezes and will stick to your windshield. A piece of cardboard should do the trick.
Driving safely with the correct posture
Driving comfort is one of the key elements when it comes to driving safely. That’s why Arval provides some recommendations to enhance it. These tips will show you how to properly adjust your car seat to optimise your driving comfort.
In a first step, to correctly adjust the settings, you sit down, fasten your seatbelt and adjust your seat to a driving position that suits you. Then, perform the following adjustments:
1. Seat distance
- Put your hands on the steering wheel. They should neither be stretched nor form an angle of 90°. When placing your fists in the middle of the steering wheel, your elbows should be slightly flexed.
- Make sure you can push down the brake pedal completely without having to slide forward in your seat.
- Make sure your knees don’t touch the dashboard.
- You should be able to move your hands around the steering wheel without your elbows touching your thighs.
2. Seat height
- Check that you can see the road up to the car in front of you.
- Check if the distance of a tight fist separates your head from the ceiling of your car.
3. Seat angle
- Check that the angle between your thigh and your body is larger than a straight angle.
- When simulating the driving movements, you should not slide in your seat. Your lower back should make contact with the seat. Should you slide, reduce the angle of your seat.
4. Backrest width
- Make sure your back rests on the entire seat and is fully supported.
- Your back should not be squeezed between the side impact bars. This may be the case with certain "sport" edition seats.
5. Backrest height
- For optimal support, the top of your backrest should reach just above your shoulders or higher.
6. Lumbar Support
- Check that the lumbar support matches the size of your back.
7. Seat design
- Check that all parts of the seat offer sufficient support.
- Make sure you are properly seated in front of your steering wheel. Take a test: put your hands in the air and let them fall back on the steering wheel. If they are positioned in the middle of the steering wheel, you will have access to all major control functions.
- Likewise, extend your right leg toward the accelerator pedal. Your leg should not be inclined to tilt to the left or to the right.
8. Access to steering wheel controls
- Check that all steering wheel controls are easily accessible. Perform this operation with the door closed.
9. Adjusting the headrest
- To prevent a whiplash injury in case of an accident, the headrest should be at a maximum distance of 7 cm from your head and should not be lower than 6 cm from the top of your head.