While Sweden may not immediately pop to the top of the list when you think about ecologically friendly car culture - it has the least fuel-efficient cars in the EU, after all - it's taking some serious steps to improve its green standing. Leaving no stone unturned, the northern European nation has started requiring drivers exhibit green-driving skills in order to earn their licenses.

Things as simple as turning on the motor after completing the pre-driving checklist can help. Thinking ahead seems to be the key element in Sweden's green driving program. The three keys: use the engine to slow rather than using the brakes - you may not need to brake at all; drive in the highest gear suitable for the conditions; and avoid aggressive acceleration and passing.

It's possible that the biggest benefits of the program will be indirect - as other nations in Europe see the Swedish model, many are expressing interest in doing the same. Also, transport companies, which see the improvements in fuel economy in money-saving rather than carbon-saving terms are interested in the technique, reports Reuters.

Although there's nothing new about using such techniques - so-called 'hypermilers' use all of these and more - the required use as part of new driver training certainly puts Sweden at the forefront of the issue. The new program started at the end of 2007, although it has been taught by some instructors for as many as five years.