The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers has launched a grass-roots initiative called “EcoDriving” in order to educate Americans on how to reduce fuel consumption and cut carbon dioxide emissions by changing their driving habits. “The program helps drivers achieve the highest gas mileage available from every single vehicle on the road, regardless of size and age,” said Alliance spokeswoman Amy Corsinita, in an interview with California and Colorado are the first states to formally support this consumer awareness program, with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger spearheading the endorsement.

The “Ecodriving” program asserts that by following a set of basic practices for driving and maintenance, a typical car owner can increase fuel economy by approximately 15 percent. Such driving and operation practices include: utilizing proper braking techniques, driving at optimum speeds, making the best use of synchronized traffic lights, and deciding when it makes sense to use air conditioning. On the maintenance side, the advice tackles issues such as choosing which motor oil to use, as well as understanding the ins and outs of tire pressure.

Much of the information provided is common sense, but the idea is for motorists to be able to begin shrinking their carbon footprint immediately without having to head right out to buy a new fuel-efficient vehicle, or wait ‘x’ number of years on the development of some new breakthrough technology. The advantage to this program is that there is no lag time for its effects to take hold.

But the initiative has been met with skepticism from some in the scientific community for providing an incomplete (and perhaps misleading) approach to greener transportation. “Providing drivers tips on how to improve their fuel economy is helpful, but the industry needs to be doing a lot more than this,” Jim Kleisch, senior engineer with the Union of Concerned Scientists, told Kleisch added, “Consumers need cleaner and substantially more fuel-efficient vehicles on the showroom floors, and until that happens, our economy and our environment are going to suffer.”