Summer weather has many drivers turning up the air conditioning to keep cool as they collectively cover hundreds of thousands of kilometers during the peak holiday season. But a new survey conducted by Honeywell reveals that many European drivers are not aware of the important safety and health benefits that properly using the car’s air conditioning system can bring.
“Our survey found that air conditioning systems are Europeans’ preferred optional extra – even outpacing newer technologies like navigation and parking assist. But they did not know it can do more than just keep them cool,” said Julien Soulet, business director for Honeywell Fluorine Products, a leading global manufacturer of refrigerants, including HFO-1234yf, a next-generation automobile refrigerant that offers a global warming potential (GWP) that is 99.9 percent lower than the previous refrigerant, HFC-134a, and lower than carbon dioxide. “Air conditioning, combined with good driving habits, can help keep drivers and passengers safe this holiday driving season.”
Based on results of a survey of drivers in the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain, Honeywell is providing European drivers with its top 10 tips to remain safe and alert as they undertake the long drive to their holiday destinations as the temperatures hit the high 20s and beyond this summer. The first three safety tips relate directly to use of the car’s air conditioning system.
- More than one in three European drivers (35 percent) does not know that using the air conditioning can prevent drowsiness. That figure climbs to more than four in 10 drivers in Germany (44 percent) and over half of all drivers in France (51 percent).
- Nearly half of European drivers (48 percent) were unaware that using the air conditioning reduces exposure to pollen, other airborne allergens and ambient pollution. In fact more than half of European drivers (53 percent) erroneously think that air conditioners re-circulate germs and pollutants in the car.
- Nearly one in five Europeans (19 percent) say they prefer to drive with the window open in slow-moving traffic and when driving off motorways. But a 2010 study shows that car air conditioning can reduce the total number of microorganisms by 81.7 percent, the number of mold spores by 83.3 percent, and the number of particles by 87.8 percent.
- Air conditioning remains the favorite optional extra for European drivers: More than half (54 percent) said they would be willing to pay for it if it were not included. This is significantly more than those who said they would pay for a navigation system (38 percent), parking assistance (36 percent) or parking cameras (31 percent).
- European Union’s Mobile Air conditioning Directive is phasing out the previous refrigerant used in car air conditioning systems that has a greenhouse effect 1,300 more powerful than CO2. When asked by how much a new replacement refrigerant – Honeywell’s Solstice® yf – cut the air conditioning’s global warming potential, only 2 percent of respondents correctly estimated that the reduction on the old refrigerant is of 99.9 percent.
- Today there are over 5 million cars on the road using Solstice yf, reducing CO2 emissions by roughly 3 million tons or the equivalent of carbon sequestered by 10 thousand square kilometers of trees, nearly six times the size of London.