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Car Idling

Vehicle idling is an offence, it’s also…

  • Expensive
  • Bad for breathing
  • Bad for children
  • An ineffective way to warm your vehicle
  • Damaging your vehicle by not operating at optimum

Idling refers to running a vehicle's engine when the vehicle is not in motion. This commonly occurs when drivers are stopped at a red light, waiting while parked outside a school, business or residence, or otherwise stationary with the engine running. Idling is an offence and you can be fined - it contributes to air pollution often already sky-high. A vehicle’s engine produces carbon monoxide and dioxide, nitrous oxides (NOx) and hydrocarbons which are linked to asthma and other lung diseases, and can precipitate deadly asthma attacks. Local authorities can issue £20 fixed penalties for emission offences and stationary idling under the law which applies in any Air Quality Management area (for example, North Hertfordshire).

The fine can only be imposed if the motorist refuses to switch off their engine when asked to do so by an authorised person. However, we can all increase awareness of this issue and change our behaviour – ask yourself “Is it necessary for me to keep the engine running?”. Make sure that the engine is off whenever possible while stationery, as described in Rule 123 of The Highway Code:

“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. 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.”


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