Bigger Fines for Drivers That Let Cars Idle While Parked

Drivers face significantly higher fines for letting their engines idle while parked in air pollution crackdown

Motorists that let their engines idle while parked might face larger fines in a bid to improve air quality in the UK, the Department for Transport warned. It argued that an idling car produces enough exhaust emissions to fill one-hundred and fifty balloons per minute – although clearly there is a lot of variation.

The Department also emphasised that emissions contain pollutants such as cyanide, NOx (nitrogen oxide), and PM2.5 (particulate matter). These substances cause health issues that shorten lives such as heart attacks, lung disease, strokes, plus various cancers.

Chris Grayling, Transport Secretary, said: ‘We are determined to crack down on drivers who pollute our communities by leaving their engines running – particularly outside school gates where our children are breathing in the toxic air. Putting a stop to idling is an easy way to drive down dangerously high levels of pollution.

Highway Code

Highway Code Rule 123 explains how motorists are expected to behave. It says: ‘Generally if the vehicle is stationary and is likely to remain so for more than a couple of minutes, you should apply the parking brake and switch off the engine to reduce emissions and noise pollution.’ However, there are some exceptions.

‘It is permissible to leave the engine running if the vehicle is stationary in traffic or for diagnosing faults’, the rule confirms.

Road Traffic (Vehicle Emissions) Regulations 2002

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The Road Traffic (Vehicle Emissions) Regulations 2002 already enable councils to fine motorists that let engines idle. Wardens can issue £20 Fixed Penalty Notices, for example. However, enforcement is rare. The Department for Transport, therefore, hopes to ‘guide’ councils so they can ‘enforce the law more effectively’.

Westminster Council is among those that punish motorists. Its Leader, Nickie Aiken, argued: ‘We need to change the way people think about engine idling.’ She added that her wardens have spoken to thousands of idling drivers and found most ‘do so out of habit.’

She further confirmed that explanation rather than punishment is often enough to change behaviour. Once drivers know the damage idling causes most are happy to switch their engines off, she revealed. Many then ‘think twice’ before they idle again. ‘Fines should be a last resort’, she suggested. ‘We prefer to ask nicely’.

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The Department for Transport plans to launch a public consultation to see whether there is support for increasing the fine for motorists that idle while parked. It is likely to take place in summer 2019. All interested parties will have a chance to comment.

Two things concern me:- 1- How is this legislation going to be publicised top all drivers, particularly divers who traditionally leave their vehicles idly - e.g. Taxis, delivery vans/lorries and HGVs??? 2- How will this legislation be properly enforced? Often these offences occur off the main highways in residential streets and business areas. JREV

Wow I'm impressed with the statement from Westminster Council leader Nickie Aiken - So much better to explain and get drivers to understand why than fine.

another excuse of money grabbing there are so many real problems cant be solved.

With more and more modern vehicles now having shut down engine systems whilst stationary will have the desired effect but only in a trickle. Leaving an engine idling in the past was shunned by motorists mainly because of cost of fuel and generally not being good for the engine. Now nobody seems to care about fuel expense. Some of the biggest culprits are Telephone, Water and Gas vans sitting around for anything up to 30 mins in side roads with exhausts throbbing away for no apparent reason.

My car has stop go built in but probably hasn't kicked in for 3 years. Unless the battery is fully charged it won't operate. Its fitted with auto lights so if I drive down a tree lined Avenue the headlights come on automatically, a good safety feature but is taking power from the battery. The system need dramatically improving to cope with the automatic functions while still operating the stop go function.

St. Helens Merseyside bus station has a large sign at each pick-up point facing the driver saying DRIVERS MUST TURN ENGINES OFF, DO THEY ? NO !!!!!! and they never have, ever since the bus station was built many years ago.

It is the people waiting in a car for children to be collected from school and going into the shops for a minute (usually 15) that can be avoided. Ironically the school run is in my experience one of the worst times to pass down school roads and these are the generation we are trying to save the planet for!!!! The biggest problem is we are all to scared to suggest to someone that they are offending as you will probably receive a tirade of abuse at best, physical violence at worst.

Kids live in the catchment area so should walk to school the exercise would do them good also

Agreed but one step at a time if you pardon the pun.