Vehicle speed and driving habits affect emissions: Hatzopoulou

Head shot of Professor Marianne Hatzopoulou

Professor Marianne Hatzopoulou

In an article posted by CBC News, UTTRI associated faculty Professor Marianne Hatzopoulou talks about how vehicle emissions are affected by speeds limits and by driving practices generally.

In “How cutting speed limits could slow climate change,” Hatzopoulou states that “certain pollutants such as nitrogen oxides are generated mainly at higher speeds.”

According to the article,

It’s not just your maximum speed that counts but how often and how much you speed up and slow down, as a result of things like congestion and traffic control. “All these acceleration events will actually lead to higher emissions,” she said.

Lower speeds require less acceleration and deceleration, producing fewer emissions.

Hatzopoulou recommends some general driving habits to minimize vehicle emissions:

  • Stick to the posted speed limit (or go slower if there’s congestion or traffic signals ahead).

  • Keep a steady pace (cruise control can help).

  • Accelerate and decelerate slowly.

  • Limit the number of times you change speed — this may mean fewer lane changes and less passing.

Link to the full article “How cutting speed limits could slow climate change,” CBC News, August 13, 2020.

Professor Hatzopoulou was interviewed August 14, 2020 for CBC Radio’s Here and Now. Listen:


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