Cars are one of the greatest contributors to climate change. It's widely known that the fuel that powers our vehicles soils the air and empties motorist's wallets.

But what surprised fledgling driver Katherine Schultz, 17, as a student of the Lewis School of Driving in New Canaan was the absence of a lesson on environmentally responsible driving in the course curriculum.

"We learned about your breaks and safety in the car, but never about what else you can do for the environment," said the Greenwich Academy junior. "We hear all the time about pollution and how your car affects global warming, but we didn't learn that."

Her favor of the great outdoors and concern about climate change helped the enterprising New Canaanite bolster her quibble into a proposal.

Schultz, a member of the high school Environmental Club, crafted a pitch to the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles: she wanted to script and shoot a short film to teach teens about green driving practices.

DMV officials offered Schultz their support from the start. With a prominent platform to expose her project secured, she began to research simple, effective tips for green driving.

On Schultz's eco-friendly driving to-do list are seven tips. Properly inflated tires, well-planned errand routes that consolidate stops and driving at the posted speed limit all help save the environment and the money for the motorist. Drivers should not idle in their vehicles for periods longer than 60 seconds, she said. In addition to shopping for fuel-efficient vehicles, it's also smart to remove unnecessary clutter that weighs down the vehicle and increases fuel use. Schultz's top suggestion is to keep the engine properly tuned.

"I didn't know how to properly inflate my tires or that idling can save you money or anything, so it was also a learning experience for me," she said.

After researching and writing the script, Schultz began filming last summer. Schultz makes her acting debut in the video, titled "From Teen Driver to Green Driver," as the green-minded teen perched behind the wheel of her mother's clean-burning diesel car.

Schultz estimates that, with the help of her father, the project took a few months to complete.

Finally, on New Year's Day, Schultz received a phone call after a long day of skiing the Colorado slopes. On the line was Bill Seymour, MV Director of Corporate and Public Relations who oversees the DMV Center on Teen Safe Driving, who called to say that he had just uploaded Schultz's video to the Connecticut DMV homepage.

"This video is important for any driver to see, but especially for teens, so that they learn early about the need for environmental awareness when driving," Seymour said.

Schultz agreed that the message is relevant to all motorists, but said the video is aimed at novice drivers who are more likely to adopt eco-friendly driving habits than more experienced drivers who may already be set in their ways.

Her father, Bob, said he has colleagues at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency who viewed the video and were thrilled with it.

Schultz thinks the video has the potential to become a viral online campaign. She has directed sent 10 of her friends a link to the video, and hopes they will continue the chain.

"If 10 friends tell 10 friends and so on, it can make a difference to help the environment--and that's the bottom line," Schultz said.

To view Schultz's video, visit the DMV Web site: http://www.ct.gov/dmv/cwp/view.asp?Q=453114&A=807