Report outlines ways Canadian commuters can save money, drive less and cut climate pollution

Oct. 23, 2012

Toronto — Canadian commuters can save time and money while reducing their environmental impact and cutting climate change pollution by making simple changes to their driving habits, according to a new study released today by the Pembina Institute.

The report, Behind the Wheel, states that the average Canadian household drives roughly 26,400 kilometres annually — more than four cross-Canada road trips (from Vancouver to Halifax) each year. And all that driving adds up: the average Canadian spends more than $10,000 a year on vehicle-related expenses, consumes nearly 2000 litres of gasoline, produces 4.6 tonnes of greenhouse gas pollution, and loses an hour a day on the road.

The report outlines three key changes Canadian commuters can make to reduce the environmental impacts, time drain and financial burden of commuting:

  1. Leave the car at home: the greatest pollution and cost savings come from driving less, making use of public transit, car-pooling, walking or cycling for commuting and shopping.
  2. Choose a cleaner vehicle: If no realistic options exist for driving less, drivers can reduce their impact by choosing more efficient vehicles or those running on alternative fuels, such as electricity.
  3. Drive smarter: All drivers can reduce their fuel use (and save money) by adopting more fuel-efficient driving practices.

Since personal transportation accounts for more than 10 per cent of Canada’s total greenhouse gas emissions, changes to Canadians’ individual driving habits represents a real opportunity for individuals to cut climate pollution. The report also explores how government and industry can help with policies, technologies and incentives to encourage Canadians to change their commuting choices.

“Whether we’re talking about fighting climate change or fighting gridlock on the commute to work, this report shows that individual choices can make a difference,” said Cherise Burda, director of the Pembina Institute’s sustainable transportation program. “Changing how we commute isn’t just about the greater good — as individuals, we can enjoy more free time, save money and reduce stress by choosing to bike, take transit, carpool, opt for a smaller vehicle or drive more efficiently.”

Behind the Wheel compares the benefits of making the shift to more sustainable transportation options for four types of Canadian commuters: those living in urban centres, drivers within city limits but outside of downtown, suburban drivers travelling an average of 30 kilometres each way, and those living in rural areas or facing commutes that are not conducive to taking transit or active alternatives.

The report and infographic were produced with support from Shell Canada.


Learn more

Download the Behind the Wheel report and infographic at

Lead author Cherise Burda's blog post "Snubbing the pump: How Canadian drivers can save money on fuel and reduce their environmental impact" is available at


Cherise Burda (Eastern Time)
Director, Sustainable Transportation
Cell: 416-824-0256
Twitter: @cheriseburda

Julia Kilpatrick (Mountain Time)
Communications Manager
Cell: 403-953-0350
Twitter: @pembina_media


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