Act over parked drivers who leave engines running

 In News

A recent poll by the RAC has shown that nearly three-quarters of drivers want councils to act over motorists who leave their engine running while parked.

Nearly half of the 2,130 people questioned in the survey urged officials to fine them if they refused to switch off their ignition.

“I agree totally with this questionnaire,” said green environment expert Ron Fox. “It is such a simple and easy way for everyone to cut down on pollution from gas emissions and the effect on the public’s health.”

Under the Road Traffic Regulations councils can hand out £20 fines to guilty drivers, but few choose to enforce them.

However Ron, of Noreus Ltd on the University of Keele Science and Innovation Park, reminded motorists of the Highway Code which states that: “You MUST NOT leave a parked vehicle unattended with the engine running or leave a vehicle engine running unnecessarily while that vehicle is stationary on a public road. 

It goes on: “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, it is permissible to leave the engine running if the vehicle is stationary in traffic or for diagnosing faults.”

Ron said that the problem is that an idling car engine can produce up to twice as many exhaust emissions, containing a range of air pollutants such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide, as an engine in motion. 

In the RAC poll 88 per cent of the 2,130 drivers questioned said that they had witnessed vehicles parked at the side of roads with their engines running, while 26 per cent said they had seen drivers doing this outside schools. 

More than half of those surveyed replied that they were more concerned now about the impact these emissions have on the environment and public health than they were three years ago.

Asked if they would turn off their engines to prevent pollution if they were stationary for a few minutes 64 per cent claimed they would outside schools; 62 per cent would do so if parked in an urban road; but only 39 per cent would do so in the countryside. 

In June this year, the the Department for Transport announced that it was set to launch a public consultation on increasing fines for idling drivers.

Meanwhile, some councils have called for stronger powers to tackle the issue. They also want to see enforcement officers and ‘no engine idling’ signs put up together with penalties, particularly on company vehicles such as supermarket delivery vans.

“The problem is very similar to that of taking your own carrier bags to the supermarket a few years ago,” said Ron. “Everyone knew it was the right thing to do, but few did it until a compulsory charge was introduced. Perhaps the same needs to be done about leaving car engines idling.”

For more information about environmental matters and green energy call Ron on 0845 474 6641.

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