Natural Resources Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Office of Energy Efficiency Links


Business: Transportation

The Auto$mart Driver Educator's Newsletter

Summer 2006 Edition

Download PDF

Hundreds of Driving Instructors Have Taken Auto$martTraining

Free train-the-trainer workshops continue to be offered across Canada to show driving instructors how the new Auto$mart Driver Education Kit can be used to help students make the link between road safety and fuel efficiency.

Since the previous edition of the Auto$mart Driver Educator's Newsletter (Summer 2005, Vol. 2), 13 more train-the-trainer workshops have been held across Canada:

  • master trainer Bob Lewis held a workshop in North Bay, Ontario, in August 2005

  • chief master trainer Sue MacNeil, of the RSEA, conducted two workshops in Newfoundland and Labrador in September 2005 – one in Corner Brook and one in St. John's – both hosted by Faith Roberts of the Newfoundland and Labrador Safety Council

  • Sue MacNeil trained 26 driving instructors at a workshop in Red Deer, Alberta, in October 2005

  • master trainer Ken Claffey trained 56 instructors at a session in Saskatoon, also in October 2005

  • in November 2005, Sue MacNeil facilitated a session in Ottawa, hosted by Yoseph Hailu of Rite On Driving School, for 15 instructors

  • from September to December, master trainer Ben Estrada – who has trained more driving instructors on how to use the Auto$mart kit than any other master trainer – held seven workshops in the Greater Toronto Area for more than 100 driving instructors

737 Instructors are now Auto$mart Certified.

As of February 15, 2006, the one-year anniversary of the launch of the kit, 737 Canadian driving instructors had received training to use the kit. The workshops are being delivered by 16 "master trainers" recruited by the Office of Energy Efficiency (OEE) and the Road Safety Educators' Association (RSEA), which is partnering with Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) to deliver free training on the Auto$mart kit.

OEE officials have also been busy making presentations on the Personal Vehicles Initiative, with a particular focus on Auto$mart driving, purchasing and maintenance practices. In September, for example, Auto$mart presentations were made at Manitoba Public Insurance's annual training workshops in Brandon and Winnipeg (about 130 people attended the two sessions in Winnipeg). Auto$mart was also presented to about 40 driving instructors and government officials at the New Brunswick Department of Public Safety's annual meeting of driver training schools in Fredericton in November.

The goal of these sessions, which brought together representatives of the driver education industry, provincial governments and NRCan, was to demonstrate how the Auto$mart Driver Education Kit's focus on fuel efficiency can reinforce the safe driving messages that are already a fundamental part of driver education programs. The presentations also emphasized that the Auto$mart kit is a free teaching resource in an industry where resources are limited. As well, the kit is the only national resource dedicated to helping novice drivers cope with rising fuel, maintenance and insurance costs. It adds value to any driver education curriculum, and instructors can also benefit personally from adopting Auto$mart practices and techniques in their own driving.

If you haven't already received training, or if your organization is interested in hosting a train-the-trainer workshop, it's not too late. Simply contact the Personal Vehicles Initiative at

580 Booth Street, 18th Floor
Ottawa ON K1A 0E4
Fax: 613-952-8169
Web site: image of Autosmart steering wheel

Auto$mart workshop in Grande Prairie, Alberta.
Spencer McDonald delivers Auto$mart workshop in Grande Prairie, Alberta.


Spread the Word – and get a classroom set of Auto$mart wrist bands!

All new instructors who register for the Auto$mart kit or contact us to request additional copies of the Auto$mart student workbook or tips cards will also recieve a free classroom set of 20 Auto$mart wristbands. Visit or e-mail for details.

Have You Received Your Auto$mart Kit?

Almost one third of professional driving instructors in Canada are now using Natural Resources Canada's (NRCan's) redesigned Auto$mart Driver Education Kit to supplement their classroom and in-car training – and the numbers are growing week by week.

While the kit has received rave reviews from instructors, the big winners are novice drivers across the country who are learning about the many benefits of fuel-efficient driving, including improved road safety, reduced fuel costs and a cleaner, healthier environment.

Since being unveiled at the Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto in February 2005, the new Auto$mart kit has captured the attention of driving instructors throughout Canada. It is available free of charge to driving schools that register with NRCan's Office of Energy Efficiency (OEE).

Demand has been brisk – by the beginning of October 2005, the OEE had mailed close to 1500 kits to registered driving instructors and driving schools. As well, more than 430 driving instructors had received advance copies of the kit by attending special training workshops to familiarize themselves with the new teaching tools and resources. As of October 1, 2005, distribution of the Auto$mart Driver Education Kit stood at 1932 copies, representing almost 33 percent of the estimated 6000 driving instructors in Canada.

Every driving instructor who is registered with Auto$mart should have received a copy of the kit by now (if you are registered and have not received the kit, contact us). For those not yet registered, the OEE is still accepting orders for the kit (see ordering details on page 11). Registering with Auto$mart is also a way to have the name of your driving school posted on the Auto$mart Web site (

"Our goal is to get a kit in the hands of every driving instructor in Canada," says Louis Brzozowski, Senior Manager of the OEE's Personal Vehicles Initiative. "If you don't have an Auto$mart kit by now, you may be missing out on a unique resource that other driving instructors are using to reinforce their safe driving messages."


Top 10 Tips for Safe, Fuel-Efficient Driving

Here are 10 great driving tips to share with your students, family and friends.

  1. Don't Drive Aggressively – Quick starts, hard stops and extremely aggressive driving increase fuel consumption by up to 39%.

  2. Drive at the Posted Speed Limit – Increasing your cruising speed from 100 km/h to 120 km/h will increase fuel consumption by about 20%.

  3. Don't Idle – When you let your vehicle idle longer than 10 seconds, you burn more fuel than you would restarting the engine.

  4. Drive Only When You Need to – Leave your vehicle at home whenever possible by walking, biking, blading, carpooling or taking the bus to nearby locations.

  5. Plan Ahead – If you have to drive, plan the most fuel-efficient route in advance.

  6. Use Your Vehicle's Air Conditioner Sparingly – Using your air conditioner in stop-and-go traffic can increase fuel consumption by as much as 20%.Try opening the windows or fresh air vents to cool your vehicle.

  7. Measure the Inflation Level of Your Tires Once a Month – A single tire under-inflated by just 56 kPa (8 psi) can increase your vehicle's fuel consumption by 4%.

  8. Use Cruise Control – On dry, flat, wide-open highways, use cruise control to help improve fuel efficiency by maintaining an even speed.

  9. Maintain your Vehicle Properly – A poorly maintained vehicle consumes more fuel, produces higher levels of emissions, requires expensive repairs, and has a low resale value.



Pursuing the Five-Phase Approach to Fuel Efficiency

Natural Resources Canada continues to work with provincial and territorial governments to promote safe, fuel-efficient driving through a phased approach that includes an important role for the driver education industry. As the table below illustrates, some provinces and territories are making good progress in implementing the five-step approach (shaded areas indicate recent developments).

Province/Territory Phase I
Include fuel efficiency messages in handbooks for new drivers.
Phase II
Include questions about fuel efficiency on exams for new drivers.
Phase III
Add a mandatory component on fuel efficiency to their driver training curriculum.
Phase IV
Make other Office of Energy Efficiency materials available to the public through licensing bureaus.
Phase V
Provide a link from their driver training and licensingWeb sites to the Auto$mart Web site.
Alberta X X X    
British Columbia X   X   X
Manitoba X X   X  
New Brunswick X        
and Labrador
X     X X
Nova Scotia     X    
Ontario X        
Prince Edward Island X     X  
Saskatchewan X   X    
Northwest Territories          
Yukon X     X X


Image of the province of Manitoba

Manitoba Set to Take the Lead

Manitoba appears destined to be the first province or territory to implement all phases of the five-step approach to promoting safe, fuel-efficient driving. It plans to incorporate an Auto$mart component in its driver education curriculum later this year.

"We are launching a new driver education curriculum in September 2006," explains Maria Minenna, a liaison officer with Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI), which is responsible for driver education in Manitoba. "Within that curriculum, two modules have been set aside for Auto$mart."

Image of Maria Minenna from MPI

Entitled "Fuel-Efficient Driving: How to Protect the Environment and Save Money," the modules will allow for between 2 and 2.5 hours of training on fuel efficiency, depending on the instructor. "That should be sufficient to cover the entire Auto$mart kit," says Ms. Minenna, who along with Lou Gervino, Manager of Driver Education with MPI, is an Auto$mart master trainer.

Manitoba has already completed three steps in Natural Resources Canada's phased approach by including fuel efficiency messages in handbooks for new drivers, including questions about fuel efficiency on exams for new drivers, and making other Office of Energy Efficiency materials available to the public through licensing bureaus (see chart above). In addition to introducing a mandatory component on fuel efficiency to its driver training curriculum, MPI is expected to provide a link from its Web site to the Auto$mart Web site soon, thus completing all five steps.

Image of Lou Gervino from MPI

MPI – a non-profit Crown corporation that is also responsible for driver licensing and vehicle registration in Manitoba – delivers driver education through the high school system. Although driver education is not mandatory in the province, there is an incentive to take the training: full-time high school students can get their learner's licence six months early (at 15.5 years of age, rather than 16) if they are enrolled in driver education.

MPI's High School Driver Education Program trains about 14 000 students each year, representing about 70 percent of eligible 16-year-olds in the province. The program is taught by more than 300 certified driving instructors through 170 high schools.

"About 130 of our instructors were introduced to the new Auto$mart kit at information sessions in Winnipeg and Brandon last September," says Ms. Minenna. "We will provide full training on the kit as part of our annual training session in May, which hopefully will involve about 90 percent of instructors. It will then be up to individual instructors how they use the Auto$mart materials in the classroom and in the vehicle to meet the requirements of the new curriculum."

She anticipates a positive response to the new curriculum requirements and the Auto$mart kit. "Based on what we've seen to date, the instructors really like the kit. The tools and resources are nicely packaged, and very little prep work is needed to incorporate the materials into the classroom curriculum. The kit is easy to use, the information is useful and it keeps the kids interested because it relates on their level."

For more information on MPI, visit


Image of the Spanish Flag<*

Auto$mart Master Trainer Takes to the Spanish Airwaves

Ben Estrada has never allowed language to be a barrier to spreading the word about the benefits of safe, fuelefficient driving.

Ben and his wife, Susana, have built a successful business around reaching out to the large Spanish-speaking population in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). As operators of the busy and successful Brisa Driving School Inc., the couple has helped thousands of Hispanic immigrants acquire driving licences in Canada.

Image of Mr. Estrada

"Brisa has been providing services to the Spanish community in the GTA for a long time," says Mr. Estrada. "In fact, my wife founded the company specifically to serve Spanish-speaking people. Although about half of our students are now non-Spanish-speaking, Brisa is still known as kind of a Spanish information service."

Mr. Estrada recently brought his knowledge of safe driving to the airwaves, by participating in a series of six live call-in shows broadcast by the Spanish-language radio station Radio Voces Latinas (1610 AM). As a qualified Auto$mart master trainer, Mr. Estrada saw it as a great opportunity to structure the programs around the Auto$mart Driver Education Kit.

"My wife and I have done a lot of shows on safe driving on local Spanish television, starting back in 1994," he explains. "This is probably why the radio station approached me with the idea of having a call-in show on driving. I decided to follow the Auto$mart teaching program, to explain why fuel efficiency is important and to link it with safe driving. People did call in and ask about other things, but I always tried to focus the discussion on safety and fuel efficiency."

The shows found a receptive audience among Radio Voces Latinas' listeners, which came as no surprise to Mr. Estrada.

"There is a great deal of interest in this subject among Spanish-speaking people in the GTA," he says. "Fuel efficiency and pollution are very hot topics for this community. Many are new immigrants who have come from countries where pollution is a real problem. In Mexico, for example, people are not allowed to drive their vehicles every day because of pollution – they can drive only every second day. So they are very interested in learning how to reduce pollution while saving money and driving more safely."

Mr. Estrada notes the same level of interest among Brisa's students, especially the younger generation, regardless of their mother tongue. "It's amazing to see how young people react to the fuel efficiency message. Now they see another benefit to safe driving – it prevents pollution. They are very aware of that message, and they welcome it."

Mr. Estrada tries to instill that same level of enthusiasm in driving instructors when he delivers a train-the-trainer workshop.

"When I was invited to become a master trainer and I saw the new Auto$mart materials, I became a real believer in the program," he recalls. "The only way you can teach something is if you believe in it yourself. So my first goal when I have a workshop is to make other instructors believers. It doesn't take much to do that, but it's very important.Then I tell them what is in the program and how to use it."

Convinced that all driving instructors should be using the Auto$mart kit, Mr. Estrada approached Centennial College and Humber Institute of Technology & Advanced Learning, both in the GTA, and offered to teach workshops as part of their regular training programs for driving instructors. As a result of this unique arrangement, and because he is located in Canada's largest city, Mr. Estrada has been credited with training more driving instructors on how to use the new Auto$mart kit than any other master trainer in Canada.

"I get follow-up phone calls from instructors all the time asking for more information or for ideas on how to teach different parts of the program," he says. "That tells me the new Auto$mart program is really working. It's not something they forget about as soon as they leave the classroom – it is generating a lot of interest among instructors. If they are believers, then their students will be believers too."


2006 Fuel Consumption Guide Now Available

Image of The 2006 Fuel Compsumption Guide

This edition of the Auto$mart Driver Educator's Newsletter includes a free copy of the 2006 Fuel Consumption Guide.

The annual Fuel Consumption Guide provides a listing of fuel consumption ratings, estimated annual fuel consumption and costs, and carbon dioxide emissions for new cars, light-duty pickup trucks, vans and special purpose vehicles sold in Canada. It also contains valuable tips on buying, driving and maintaining a vehicle for maximum fuel efficiency, thus reinforcing the messages in the Auto$mart Driver Education Kit.

You can order classroom sets of the guide by visiting

Register for Auto$mart at

Haven't registered with Auto$mart yet? What's the holdup? Registration entitles you to a free copy of the new Auto$mart Driver Education Kit, a teaching resource that is already being used by close to 2000 of your colleagues – accross Canada. It's just a click away – simply visit our Web at to sign up on-line or download a registration form.

Driving School Association of the Americas Applauds Auto$mart Kit

Auto$mart is a "made-in-Canada" teaching resource, but that hasn't stopped it from gaining some international acclaim!

The Driving School Association of the Americas, Inc. (DSAA) – an international association of driving school owners who are committed to improving driver safety and encouraging professional ethics in the industry – has become a big booster of the Auto$mart Driver Education Kit.

It all started in August 2005, when the DSAA held a board meeting in Ottawa. The following day, DSAA President Bradley Huspek and others attended a seminar organized by the Driving School Association of Ontario, which included a presentation on the Auto$mart Driver Education Kit. So impressed was Mr. Huspek that he asked for the presentation to be repeated at the DSAA's annual convention in San Diego, California, in November.

But Mr. Huspek's enthusiasm didn't end there. In his column in the pre-convention issue of the association's magazine, Mr. Huspek gave special mention to the Auto$mart kit, calling it "a unique new educational resource sweeping across Canada." He went on to say that, since attending the "engaging, informative and innovative" seminar in Ottawa, he had saved a tremendous amount of fuel with his personal vehicle and intended to train instructional staff at his own driving school on the Auto$mart program.

"The Auto$mart teaching materials are designed to be easily interwoven into any existing curriculum," wrote Mr. Huspek in The Dual News Magazine, which is distributed to more than 8000 professional driving schools and 50 000 driving instructors. "The focus is on individual environmental and economic responsibility, with effective strategies designed to significantly reduce fuel consumption – all coupled with the safe driving techniques we already espouse. NRCan [Natural Resources Canada] and RSEA [Road Safety Educators' Association] should be commended for the timely development of this excellent educational resource."

With advance billing like that, it's no wonder the Auto$mart presentation in San Diego was the bestattended session of the convention, drawing more than 100 delegates on a balmy Saturday afternoon.

Louis Brzozowski of the Office of Energy Efficiency (OEE) kicked off the presentation by providing an overview of the Personal Vehicles Initiative. "I basically explained that our goal is to modify people's driving behaviour in order to reduce their fuel consumption and, in turn, improve road safety, save money and help address climate change," says Mr. Brzozowski. "That message really seemed to resonate with the audience."

Ken Claffey – A Master Trainer Who Is Still Learning

Ken Claffey has a theory about the driver education business: "The day you stop learning is the day you should get out of the profession." It's a doctrine that has served him well over two decades of teaching young people in Saskatchewan how to drive safely.

Mr. Claffey speaks with some authority. Since making the jump from being a professional driver to a driving instructor in 1986, he has risen through the ranks to become Manager of Driver Education Services for Saskatoon Public Schools and a past president of the Saskatchewan Driver Educators Association. He is also an Auto$mart master trainer whose involvement with the initiative goes back many years.

"We piloted the original Auto$mart kit in one of my classes a few years ago," recalls Mr. Claffey. " I also sat on the steering committee a couple of years ago in Ottawa that helped advise Natural Resources Canada on the new kit. I think they've done a great job with the new program. It is so versatile – you can pick and choose elements or use the entire program. I'm excited to be using it and to be teaching Auto$mart to other driving instructors."

Driver education is mandatory for new drivers in Saskatchewan, which recently introduced a graduated licensing system. The provincial government also requires that all high schools offer driver education courses, which can be a challenge in some smaller communities, including remote First Nations communities in northern Saskatchewan. One way Mr. Claffey gets around the problem is by using interactive televised instruction.

"I have a distance learning course, where I teach in a studio and the signal is broadcast to some of the province's smaller schools that may have only five or six students enrolled in driver education," he explains. "It's not costeffective to send an instructor out to teach such a small group, so we use the interactive approach to reach them."

Students watch the lesson on live closed-circuit television and can place a telephone call to the studio at any time to ask Mr. Claffey a question. Saskatoon Public Schools is also responsible for teaching driver education to homeschooled teens, and Mr. Claffey tries to get these young people into the studio to create a classroom-like environment. Each school division makes its own arrangements for in-car training.

"I've taught three interactive classes now, the last two of which included the full Auto$mart program. It seems to be working very well."

In addition to his teaching responsibilities, Mr. Claffey supervises a staff of 10 driving instructors employed by Saskatoon Public Schools. He has trained these instructors to use the Auto$mart kit and, in fall 2005, delivered an Auto$mart workshop to about 60 instructors at the Saskatchewan Driver Educators Association convention in Saskatoon.

"I have two more workshops scheduled for early 2006, in Saskatoon and Regina, for instructors who couldn't make it to the convention. When these are done, we will have trained pretty well all the driving instructors in Saskatchewan to use the Auto$mart program."

And even when that job is done, insists Mr. Claffey, the learning will continue.

Check Out the Idle-Free Zone Web Site

Image of for the Idle-Free Zone

As a driving instructor, you recognize that unnecessary vehicle idling is an enormous waste of fuel and money. It is also hard on the engine, produces unnecessary greenhouse gases and other pollutants, and is damaging our health. If every driver of a light-duty vehicle in Canada avoided idling for just five minutes a day, we would prevent more than one million tonnes of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere each year and make a huge contribution to Canada's climate change efforts.

Natural Resources Canada's (NRCan's) Idle-Free Zone Web site has free tools and information to help you and your students kick the idling habit. It's a one-stop source of information on why idling is a problem and what we can do about it – as individuals, businesses and communities. Among the resources that can be downloaded is NRCan's Personal Five-Step Action Plan – a great way to remind your students daily of how they can modify their driving habits to help the environment.

Visit the Idle-Free Zone at

Poster Series Continues

This edition of the Auto$mart Driver Educator's Newsletter also includes a free copy of the Auto$mart maintenance poster, the second in a series of three. The poster highlights the importance of proper vehicle maintenance in ensuring maximum fuel efficiency and reducing unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions. It also provides useful maintenance-related tips. The third and final poster in the series focuses on buying a fuel-efficient vehicle. It will be distributed with the next edition of the newsletter in the fall of 2006.

Image of for the poster competition

When was the last time you measured the pressure in your tires?

Tires are often the most neglected part of a vehicle.They should be measured regularly – at least once a month.

Without good tires that are properly inflated, your vehicle won't accelerate, brake or steer properly. Other safety devices such as antilock braking systems, traction control systems and stability control systems may not function correctly with tires that are not properly inflated. By following a few simple steps, you will increase your own safety. You will also improve fuel economy and prolong the life of your tires, both of which will help to save energy and therefore reduce your vehicle's impact on climate change and the environment.

You can't tell if your tires have enough air just by looking at them. Even though they may look fine, they may be under-inflated by as much as 20%.

Before inflating your tires:

  • Find the vehicle manufacturer's recommended pressures for your front, rear and spare tires. The recommended pressures are printed on the vehicle's tire information label, which is usually attached to the edge of the driver's door, the door post, the glove box or the fuel door. If you can't find the label, check your owner's manual.

  • Use a good-quality gauge to measure the pressure of each tire. The pocket gauges sold by automotive supply stores are generally more accurate than those on gas station air pumps.

  • Measure the pressure when your tires are cold, and don't forget the spare. Tires will be cold if the vehicle has been stationary for at least three hours or has not been driven more than 2 km.

Without proper maintenance, such as correct inflation pressure, tires could suddenly fail, causing you to lose control of your vehicle. It's up to you!

For more information, visit

Auto$mart Kit Hits the Nail on the Head

According to John Svensson, President of the Driving School Association of Ontario, every now and then an exciting program comes along that is timely, well designed and effective – a program that "really hits the nail on the head." The Auto$mart Driver Education Kit, he says, is one of those programs.

"I've been working in this field for 35 years," says Mr. Svensson, who owns and operates the Training and Research Institute for Advanced Driver Development in Guelph, Ontario. "I have seen lots of programs in that time, and I give NRCan and the team working on this project full credit. A lot of thought has gone into the kit. It takes great advantage of the technologies that are now available to both instructors and students."

Image of John Svensson

Mr. Svensson is hardly a recent convert to the Auto$mart approach – he was involved in developing the original Auto$mart teaching resource several years ago. However, he regards the new kit, with its focus on making the link between safe driving and fuel efficiency, as a significant step forward for driver education in Canada. And he relishes the opportunity, as an Auto$mart master trainer, to teach the program to other driving instructors across the province.

With the Auto$mart program, says Mr. Svensson, driving instructors can take full advantage of spontaneous teaching opportunities, as they arise naturally, at multiple points in any curriculum – either in the classroom or in the vehicle. "The program is not prescriptive – in fact, it's extremely flexible. It's so effective that often students do not even realize they are learning."

Education programs work much better when the instructor functions more as a facilitator than as a lecturer, says Mr. Svensson. "Auto$mart allows for that. Also, there is a lot in the design of Auto$mart that ensures that learning outcomes are not totally predicated on the teacher. There are enough hooks to stimulate discussion and really get students engaged in the topics."

If anything, says Mr. Svensson, the Auto$mart tools and resources do not add a layer of complexity to a curriculum but actually make the teaching process easier. "If we can get students to incorporate all of the Auto$mart strategies into their driving behaviour, we don't have to teach safe driving as a separate topic," he insists. "The Auto$mart program embodies all of the strategies one would need to drive safely. The bonus is that you are now also driving fuel efficiently."

The fact that using less fuel helps to combat climate change just adds to the program's allure for novice drivers. "Environmental issues are very big for young people right now," notes Mr. Svensson. "Driving fuel efficiently is a way they can build on this interest and put knowledge they already have to practical use in the approach they take to their driving."

Running Out of Auto$mart Supplies?

Driving instructors who are registered with Auto$mart are entitled to free publications for their classrooms and students. Just tell us how many copies you need, and they'll be in the mail in a matter of days.

Available Auto$mart publications include the Auto$mart Student Workbook and Auto$mart Student Tips Cards. Other available resources include The Auto$mart Guide, the 2006 Fuel Consumption Guide and the Fuel Consumption Calculators for gasoline and diesel vehicles.To order copies for every student in your class, contact the PersonalVehicles Initiative.

Personal Vehicles Initiative
580 Booth Street, 18th Floor
Ottawa ON K1A 0E4
Tel.: 1 800 387-2000
Fax: 613-952-8169
Web site: