Calgary

Carbon tax on fuel can be offset by small changes to driving habits, says instructor

Alberta's new carbon tax is now adding $0.049 to a litre of gas, an amount that can be offset with some small changes to your habits behind the wheel, according to one driving instructor.

It can be as easy as planning your route and avoiding construction

Robert Smith, an instructor with Derek Brown's driving school, said small changes to your driving can make a difference for your wallet. (Andrew Brown/CBC)

Alberta's new carbon tax is now adding $0.049 to a litre of gas, an amount that can be offset with some small changes to your habits behind the wheel, according to one driving instructor. 

Robert Smith, who works for Derek Brown's driving school, said it doesn't take much to affect your mileage. 

"You can get better tires — with the conditions we have, winter tires that will eliminate all the spinning taking off at lights," he said. 

"Reduce your speed. When you're taking off at lights, just a steady throttle, don't spin. Braking — when you're coming in and approaching a light, coast to the light instead of racing up to the light and stopping."

Plan ahead

Smith said things like planning your route and avoiding construction areas are both helpful in avoiding gas-sucking stop-and-go travels, as well as using cruise control on the highway.

If you look ahead, said Smith, you can also avoid braking and accelerating as often as most drivers do.

As for your choice of vehicle?

"If you really don't need a pickup truck in the city, don't buy it, buy a car," he said. "But the best way is if you can take transit, walk or bike, that's the best alternative."

A more efficient ride

Brandon Ferriss can get behind some of that advice, even though he said he's pretty much going to keep doing what he's doing. 

"Taxes just keep going up so just go with the flow I guess, and maybe one day they'll come down," he said while filling up his tank on Monday. 

Ferriss said he tries to be smart about approaching red lights and braking properly and that he'd be willing to make changes to his driving skills in order to save some money. 

For Curtis Lovell, he's stuck paying for gas thanks to his delivery job, so reduced driving isn't an option. That said, he uses Google Maps in order to plan his routes and drive more efficiently, and he ensures his vehicle is well maintained.

"I have a six-cylinder van and I'm going to be going to a more efficient vehicle," he said of his ultimate plans. "I'm just gathering my ducats together so that I can get a more efficient car."

With files from Andrew Brown