About Smart Drive Challenge

  • Smart Drive 1.0
  • Smart Drive 2.0

In 2016, Scout Environmental (Scout) designed and implemented Smart Drive Challenge (SDC): an innovative, data-driven program that encouraged participants to adopt efficient driving behaviours and reduce their driving distance through the use of alternative modes of transportation. The program took place in Ontario’s Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) and British Columbia’s Capital Region (CRD) areas, with a second, separate SDC taking place later that year in Metro Vancouver.

Smart Drive Challenge’s objective was to reduce participant fuel-use and related GHGs by 15%.

These reductions were to be achieved by a combination of driving better (improving participant fuel efficiency) and driving less (reducing Vehicle Kilometers Travelled (VKTs)). Participant driving behaviours were targeted through a combination of:

  • An interactive ecoDriving Online course,
  • In-vehicle data loggers capable of tracking real-time driving results,
  • Direct feedback to participating drivers via data from the loggers and a personalized online dashboard displaying fuel use, distance driven, and efficiency metrics on hard braking, hard accelerating, and idling,
  • Friendly competition among participants through shared dashboard performance results from other participating drivers and
  • Cash rewards for completing the program and achieving a 15% reduction.

Our Results and What We Learned

  • Over 500 drivers participated (including over 250 in the GTHA, 50 in the CRD, and 200 in a separate program in Metro Vancouver).


  • Overall, the program achieved 16% fuel and GHG reductions with savings of over 4,275 L of fuel and over 10,000 kg of GHGs. Digging a bit deeper, the median reduction per participant was 14% and the average reduction was 4%. While the group as a whole achieved significant reductions, the lower average is the result of poor performance among a small number of participants;
  • A majority of participants achieved improvements in the efficient driving behaviours of hard braking and hard accelerating;
  • Participants in CRD, BC had greater success achieving fuel reductions from driving less than participants in GTHA, ON. This may be because of CRD’s smaller geographic area and participants’ closer proximity to different modal options and destinations;
  • Participant recruitment succeeded largely through in-kind stakeholder communication channels and that helped participants learn about the program through friends, family, colleagues/workplaces, and word of mouth;
  • In-vehicle data loggers were the single largest program expense, accounting for almost 1/3 of the program budget, and making the cost-per-participant a barrier to program scalability; and
  • Participant satisfaction with the program and willingness to recommend it to others was high, which was an encouraging result for future iterations of SDC.

Metro Vancouver

According to Metro Vancouver’s independent analysis, conducted by a University of British Columbia Sustainability Scholar, the following was determined:

The main focus of the study was to determine the effects of the training on changes in inner-city driving (most specifically within the Metro Vancouver Regional District (MVRD)) rather than cross-country travel. Analysis of the subset data indicated significant changes in post-training driving behaviour.

  • The most significant result was a reduction in the daily average hard accelerations and decelerations (by -36.05% and -31.14%, respectively).
  • The overall values of period-averaged km-distance travelled (-4.9%), average trip speed (-5.75%), and average number of completed trips (-5.8%) also dropped
  • There was also a smaller overall reduction in period-averaged driving (-2.81%) time, period-averaged idling time (-1.23%), and idling fuel consumption (-3.38%).

In 2017 the program evolved, moving away from the vehicle data logging technology and placing more emphasis on online training resources and self-directed learning management systems. Our educational model provided a range of training videos and resources focused on efficient driving, vehicle maintenance, vehicle technology, low- and zero-emissions vehicles, and active and public forms of transportation.
In short, SDC focused on a free online education-based learning hub that educated and empowered drivers to:

  • Make their current vehicle use more efficient through improved driving techniques and vehicle maintenance,
  • Increase their awareness and use of low- and zero-emission vehicles, and
  • Support and increase their use of sustainable transportation options.

After completing their training, participants were challenged to apply what they learned in their daily lives. At regular intervals, Scout followed-up with participants to gauge their intended and actual behavioural changes and determine the overall impacts of the program.

SDC 2.0 again relied on multi-stakeholder collaboration, bringing together private, government, non-profit, and academic partners to engage drivers in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, and Nova Scotia.

Our Results and What We Learned

  • All participants pledged to drive more efficiently and almost all of them tried to drive more efficiently after completing their online training (e.g., by reducing speed or anticipating upcoming traffic), with the majority doing so 75% of the time;
  • The vast majority of participants had adopted at least one or more actions to improve their vehicle’s fuel efficiency (e.g., to check and inflate tires or remove roof racks). At least half adopted four or more actions they had learned in the program;
  • Only a small proportion of participants (up to 20%) had increased their use of other modes of transportation (e.g., public transit or bicycling) after participating in the program, while most indicated that their modal usage had stayed the same. For many participants, a number of the modes of transport were not considered easily available due to their lifestyles. This suggests that the program was less successful at changing modal transportation usage than it is at changing driving behaviour and adopting vehicle efficiency techniques;
  • Most participants expressed willingness to purchase or lease an electric vehicle following the program, double the proportion of participants who expressed interest in electric vehicles before participation;
  • The intended improvements in driving behavior and transportation practices noted immediately following training completion were often greater than the actual changes in behaviour reported one month following the program. This suggests that participant intentions versus on-the-pavement realities differ. This should be noted for future iterations of the SDC and other similar driver education/sustainable transportation campaigns where participant intentions and actual impact are not one and the same. This difference might require further communication with and support for participants to adopt and maintain the driving behaviours and other efficiency measures to the degree that they had intended; and
  • Participants who completed the program were largely satisfied with the program itself (84% satisfied or very satisfied), with 100% agreeing that other drivers would benefit from participating and 95% willing to recommend the program to other drivers.