On-the-Spot Fines for Engine Idling

With the Government’s spotlight firmly placed upon the reduction of pollution within urban areas, many councils across the UK have started issuing fines of between £20-40 to people found leaving their engine running whilst they're parked. 

Already in place in Nottingham, Norwich, Reading and London, the on-the-spot fine of £20 (£40 in some parts of London) is gaining traction throughout the UK; with another 30 areas aiming to introduce the fine in the near future. As with many schemes we’ve seen recently, the aim is to increase the quality of air that we have in our towns and cities. 

Remaining stationary with a car’s engine running can produce up to twice the amount of pollutants of an engine in motion. It’s for this reason that it has long been illegal - under the Road Traffic Act 1988 - to leave an engine idling unnecessarily; this, of course, does not mean that an engine needs to be switched off whilst stuck in traffic. 

Aside from sitting in congestion, the law also allows an engine to be left running whilst diagnosing faults or defrosting the windscreen. 

Whilst the law and penalty may have been around for quite some time, the difference with this new focus is the increased targeting of areas around schools. Before and after school hours, these areas have been found to encounter a spike in pollutants as parents drop off and collect their children from school. With a new found focus on this law, parents will need to switch off their engine whilst they wait or risk facing the penalty. 

According to the law, the fine can only be given to a driver if they refuse to switch off their engine when asked by an enforcement officer. If the driver does refuse and is issued a penalty, the fine can rise to as much as £40 if not paid off within the given timeframe. 

Talking of the fines, the RAC’s Head of Road’s Policy, Nicholas Lyes, told Autocar:

“With the spotlight firmly on reducing pollution in urban areas, we welcome a focus on reducing unnecessary engine idling. The correct procedure should be for an enforcement officer to ask the driver to switch their engine off, and if they refuse, they will be issued a penalty. Idling engines can produce up to twice the amount of emissions of an engine in motion, and for drivers it can mean higher fuel bills."

This focus on stationary idling is the latest in a long line of efforts to help increase the UK’s air quality. What do you think of this and all of the other schemes currently in place? We’d like to read your thoughts on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin.

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