'Save money and your lungs' Bristol tells its motorists

Bristol council has introduced a scheme which seeks to persuade residents to reduce their pollution impact by explaining this could save hard-earned cash as well as improve health prospects.

The information campaign has been backed up by an extensive roadside emissions testing programme and the combined approach could have a significant impact on the city's air quality.

The city council has produced a leaflet, Cut Your Car Costs as part of its Air Quality Plan, which sets out a package of measures to tackle air pollution caused by transport.

The main message of the guide is that even small changes to driving and maintenance habits can help cut pollution in the city and save drivers up to £400 a year.

According to the guide, the average urban driver spends £1500 a year on fuel, and reducing the amount of fuel used not only saves money, but also cuts the emissions that contribute to air pollution.

For example, slowing down can also greatly reduce fuel costs as driving at 85mph can use 40% more fuel than travelling at 70mph; simple routine maintenance such as keeping your tyres properly inflated could save £45 a year; and having your car serviced regularly could improve fuel consumption by 25%.

The potential savings are substantial and according to the council following other tips in the guide could save an equivalent of 30p a litre on fuel.

The guide is launched to coincide with the trial of new technology that can remotely detect vehicle emissions. By shining a laser beam through the exhaust path of a vehicle as it passes, the equipment measures the emissions without having to stop drivers.

The equipment was provided by air quality monitoring specialists Enviro Technology, who used their Accuscan 4600 to gather and analyse samples.

"We have conducted demonstrations in London and Glasgow this year but, for local authority commissioned city-wide monitoring, this is a UK first," said Stephen Hoskin, a spokesman for the company.

The equipment measures vehicles for the emission of Nitric Oxide (NO), Carbon Monoxide (CO), Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Hydrocarbons (HC) and the 'smoke factor' - a measurement technique specifically developed for assessing particulate emissions from diesel vehicles.

The system also records the speed and acceleration of the vehicle. All the data is referenced to an image of the registration plate which has been captured by a high speed camera, thus allowing the identification of polluting vehicles.

Trials took place in November and December last year with the aim of assessing the percentage of high polluting vehicles that use Bristol's roads.

Once anaylsed, the results will help to inform future air quality management strategies. The trial also presents an opportunity to explore how drivers of vehicles with high levels of emissions can be advised to get their car serviced.

Over a period of about a month, testing took place at seven sites across the city along major commuting routes and other areas chosen for their heavy traffic where it has been difficult to reduce air pollution.

Cllr Gary Hopkins, the council's executive member for environment and community safety, said: "The new guide is very topical given drivers' current concerns about fuel prices and the general cost of motoring. Saving money on driving is great news, but the fact that this can cut air pollution has got to be a benefit to all Bristol residents, drivers or not.

"The emissions testing will help further the work on reducing air pollution as we hope to use the information gathered to advise drivers of high polluting vehicles that they should schedule their vehicles for maintenance.

"This will provide drivers with the opportunity to ensure their vehicle meets MOT standards. Establishing how many high polluting vehicles there are on Bristol's roads will also help to drive future road traffic and air quality strategy."

Cllr Dennis Brown, executive member for transport and development control, added: "This really is a win-win initiative. Drivers can get advice on how to pollute less whilst also saving money. At the same time, the council will gain new data on how polluted our major roads are. Together, we can help clean up the air we all have to breathe."

More information on the guide is available by contacting Bristol City Council's Transport Planning team on 0117 9036701 or visiting their webpage at www.bristol-city.gov.uk/carcosts.

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