Environment technology may help drivers to win award

bus drivers could be in line for an environmental award after their employer installed on-board technology which warns them when they are damaging air quality.

First South Yorkshire, which employs 1,600 people at depots in Sheffield, Rotherham and Doncaster, is shortlisted in the 2010 GreenFleet Awards for the its DriveGreen project.

DriveGreen uses the GPS technology to detect dozens of driving movements per minute on all 520 First buses in the county and reports back to the driver how well they are driving.

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A "traffic light" LED monitor on bus dashboards flashes green if the driver is driving correctly, or amber or red if a bus driver carries out an unnecessary driving manoeuvre such as heavy braking.

The firm said the driver could then make immediate changes to their driving style to ensure buses travel more efficiently to use less fuel and produce fewer CO2 emissions.

It is hoped that buses also travel more smoothly when the driver is aware of errors, improving the passengers' journey.

Weekly cash prizes are handed to the drivers who produce the best and most improved scores. Notice areas in each depot give details of the best-performing areas.

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Brandon Jones, First South Yorkshire's deputy managing director, said: "It is a real achievement for First in South Yorkshire to be shortlisted for such a prestigious national environmental award.

"This award is testament to the hard work and dedication of our drivers, engineers and other staff who have worked extremely hard to go the extra mile on the DriveGreen project."

A trial of DriveGreen began in March 2009 and since then First said it had seen a 70 per cent decrease in the number of unnecessary driving manoeuvres carried out by drivers. This has led to a significant decrease in the levels of CO2 produced by buses.

The company said that each driver is using, on average, 500 less litres of fuel per year – which equates to 1.2 tonnes less CO2. Within three years it is estimated that First buses will produce 130,000 less tonnes of CO2, the equivalent of removing 24,000 cars off the road.

Awards will be presented at a ceremony tomorrow night at the Emirates Stadium in London.