How often do you sit in your car with the engine running?

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How often do you sit in your car with the engine running?

Did you know that idling can have a negative effective on your health, the environment and your fuel consumption? The Royal College of Physicians estimate 40,000 deaths a year in the UK are linked to air pollution and engine idling contributes quite significantly to this pollution. Keeping your engine running when sat in heavy traffic, waiting to collect friends or family or sat outside school and work means that the fumes from your exhaust build up in congested areas, which in turn builds carbon dioxide, which leads to the negative effects of climate change.

Leaving your engine running also increases your fuel consumption, an idling diesel lorry burns approximately one gallon of fuel an hour and contrary to the myth, it is not more efficient to keep your engine running rather than start and stopping either. Idling for just 10 seconds wastes more fuel than restarting the engine. So, you can see that it makes sense to turn off your engine, but did you know that you also run the risk of getting fined for idling?

Rule 123 of The Highway Code states that drivers must not leave the engine running unnecessarily while that vehicle is stationary on a public road. Currently the fine can be up to £80 with some councils now looking to enforce such fines in specific areas.

Recently York’s anti idling policy stepped up their campaign to reduce air pollution. They are now looking at ways in which the community can get involved, asking local residents to film drivers idling and send in their footage, with a share of the fine given to them as a reward! Whilst some have accused the authorities of creating a big brother society, similar schemes have been run in New York with successful reductions in idling.

Tackling idling is viewed as a great way to reduce pollution, do you think you could reduce the amount of time you sit with the engine running?

Our top tips:

  • Are you going to be sat for more than 10 seconds? If yes, then turn off your engine.
  • If you are sat around a school, hospital or heavily populated area, turn of your engine – these are the area’s most likely to be policed with fines.
  • If asked to turn off your engine, it is better to simply do it, refusal to switch off your engine is how you end up with the fine.
  • In the winter don’t sit on your drive waiting for your car to warm up, driving your car is a more efficient way to heat the car (but please clear the screen first).
  • If collecting someone, call ahead and ask them to be waiting outside for you, reducing the time you are waiting with your engine on.
  • Can you walk – an even better way to reduce the impact of idling is to leave the car at home, could one day a week, you walk the school run?
  • Consider a telematics system or driving course, both will help to make you more aware of your driving habits and help you to reduce idling.
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