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Engine idling campaign

Published Tuesday, 14 November 2017

children with masks over their mouths to protect their lungs from exhaust emmissions from idling cars

As part of our commitment to improve air quality our engine idling campaign is starting up again this year.

Clean air is important for our good health and wellbeing. That is why it is so important that we all play our part in protecting and improving the quality of the air that we all breathe.

In South Lanarkshire we generally have good and improving air quality however there are some localised air pollution hotspots in our towns. This campaign will focus on drivers who wait with their engines running particularly at school, leisure and cultural venues.

Many people are tempted to leave the engine running in warmer weather for air conditioning and in colder weather to keep their car warm. And sometimes it is just habit that stops us from turning off our engines.

Our campaign will encourage a new habit – switching off!

When an engine is left idling it can produce up to twice as many exhaust emissions as an engine in motion. Such activities negatively impact on the quality of air which we all have no choice but to breath in.

Idling a vehicle unnecessarily is an offence. Our officers will warn any driver found to be doing this and if they fail to turn the engine off they may be issued with a £20 fixed penalty notice. The officers will also distribute information and educate drivers about the harmful effects of engine idling.

Many people idle their vehicles because they think it is better for their cars or uses less fuel than switching off and on again. This is not the case. Here are a few simple facts to help drivers make a more informed choice:

  • Restarting your engine does not use more fuel than idling - according to the Consumer Energy Centre idling for more than 10 seconds uses more fuel than restarting your car
  • Idling your car is not the best way to warm your car in cold weather - the best way to warm up a car is to drive it
  • Frequent restarting is not hard on the engine and battery - frequent restarting has little impact on engine parts like the battery and starter motor
  • Excessive idling is hard on engines - excessive idling can damage cylinders, spark plugs and exhaust systems

And here are a few more facts about health and environmental effects:

  • An idling engine emits 20 times more pollution than one travelling at 30mph

By turning off your engine you can reduce pollution:

  • Emissions from vehicles contribute to global warming - emissions contain carbon which mixes with air to form carbon dioxide, a major contributor to human-caused global warming

Idling wastes fuel and money:

  • Every 10 minutes of engine idling wastes at least one-tenth of a litre of fuel

Air pollutants from an idling engine are respiratory irritants:

  • These pollutants can increase asthma symptoms

Children breathe 50% more air per pound of body weight than adults:

  • This makes children more vulnerable to the effects of pollution

Children’s lungs have a lot of growing to do to reach adulthood. We need to protect those lungs as best we can during this development period.

What can you do to help?

Walk, cycle or use public transport: Leave the car behind and use more active ways to travel. Children and adults all benefit from being more physically active – use the commute to improve your health and reduce pollution

Park and stride: Consider driving only part of the way and walking the rest. This is particularly important on the school commute as it reduces the amount of pollution at school drop off and pick up points

Turn off your engine: As a rough guide, if you are going to be parked for more than 30 seconds turn off your engine

For more information on engine idling please go to our idling offences page or our YouTube film.