School run engine-idling – parents now face fines

Engine idling school fines

School run engine-idling – parents now face fines

The RAC have welcomed new proposals to introduce so-called “no-idling zones” across the country, with the government aiming to eliminate unnecessary engine-running in areas where it is the most harmful. The new plan has been devised by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) and Public Health England (PHE) and names care homes, schools and hospitals as places where engine-idling is likely to cause the most harm.

Parents that partake in engine-idling on the school run whilst parked up could now face fines. The penalties have been designed to cut air pollution and damage to child health and parents in some areas of London are already being met with £80 charges for leaving engines running when they pick their children up from school. These fines were introduced by Westminster City Council. It’s said that people aged over 65, those living with conditions including heart problems and asthma and children aged under 14 are the most likely to benefit from the new zones.

Westminster City Council said car engine-idling for just one minute is capable of producing enough exhaust emissions with harmful chemicals to fill 150 balloons. PHE research suggested that long-term exposure to air pollution accounted for the equivalent of approximately 25,000 deaths a year. Air pollution is said to have a health impact of between £8.5 billion and £18.6 billion each year.

Guidance based on best evidence available
Chairman of the Nice guideline committee Professor Paul Lincoln said measures already introduced had not been enough to challenge the air pollution problem effectively, saying the new guidance was “based upon the best evidence available”. The guidance is being targeted at transport workers, health workers, employers, councils and the general public. It also emphasises the importance of cutting car journeys and replacing them with walking and cycling. Further measures outlined include introducing charging points for electric cars at work and in residential areas and doing more to promote car clubs and car sharing initiatives.

The RAC said the fines were a “simple step” that would help tackle the ongoing problem of dirty air. The RAC’s Nick Lyes said too few drivers knew “the harm they were causing” by leaving their engines idle. Mr Lyes urged schools to work closely alongside local authorities to encourage parents to turn their engines off and said those that continue to leave them on should be charged. He said other measures that could be used to tackle problems with air pollution could include encouraging a smoother flow of vehicles, replacing speed humps with speed cushions and optimising traffic light phasing.

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