In Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba’s maiden Budget Speech on 21 February 2018, South Africans learnt there will be a 52 cents per litre increase in the levies on fuel, made up of a 22 cents per litre for the general fuel levy, and a 30 cents per litre increase in the Road Accident Fund Levy. The increase will come into effect on 1 April.

While you cannot control the cost of fuel, you can control the way you drive to make filling up your tank a little easier on your wallet. Derek Kirkby, Technical Director at Ford’s Driving Skills for Life (DSFL), a programme which aims to promote a safe and economical driving culture in South Africa, says aggressive driving is perhaps the biggest culprit for high fuel consumption.

Here are five tips from DSFL to help limit your visits to the petrol pump:

· Get Through the Gears
The higher you rev your car, the more petrol you use. Kirkby’s top tip for saving fuel is to change to the highest gear as early as possible and to keep your gear changes at low revs. Between 2 000rpm and 2 500rpm will ensure you smooth and economical driving.

· Avoid Aggressive Driving
“Don’t use your accelerator like an on and off switch,” says Kirkby. Constant accelerating and braking sequences use more fuel. Rather, anticipate the traffic situation. Change lanes early when approaching obstacles, smoothly equalise speed differences, and be aware of what other drivers are doing.

· Use The Vehicle’s Momentum
Kirkby advises drivers to use the vehicle’s momentum and built-up energy, sparing the car of unnecessary revs. Take your foot off the accelerator pedal early, and roll with the traffic when approaching red traffic lights, or stop and yield signs, before changing direction, and in stop-and-go traffic.

· Avoid Excessive Idling
“If you are expecting to idle for more than 20 seconds, it is economical to switch off a warm engine,” advises Kirkby. In fact, idling for just three minutes uses the same amount of petrol as driving for one kilometre at 50km/h. If you are loading or unloading your vehicle, waiting at a red traffic light, or if your better half has popped into the shop, turn off that engine. And don’t worry, switching the engine on and off does not damage the starter switch nor decreases its lifespan.

· Check Your Tyre Pressure
Your tyre pressure affects your fuel economy. If you are just 0.3 BAR below the optimum tyre pressure, you are increasing the rolling resistance of your vehicle by up to 10 per cent. “Correct tyre pressure can provide one to three per cent better fuel economy,” says Kirkby. It all adds up!

According to South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral), our 747 000km-long road network is the tenth largest in the world, and by far the largest in Africa. For South African drivers, this means there is a lot of driving to do. An economical style of driving will ensure you go further on each tank.

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