The UK needs Stronger Laws to Force Driver’s to Switch Off Engines Whilst Waiting in Traffic. Some countries have been doing this for many years. In Germany it’s the law that you must switch off your engine whilst queuing or waiting at crossings.
I first experienced this in Munich in 1994 when I was staying with a German family on a school exchange. Whilst waiting at a level crossing the mother switched her Volvo off. When I enquired as to why she said it was law. It’s covered by Section 30 of the StVO (German Road Traffic Licensing Regulations) which states:
“When operating a vehicle it is forbidden to produce undue noise and avoidable air pollution from exhaust fumes. Especially prohibited is the unnecessary idling of engines.” – Section 30 of the StVO
According to the LImSchG (Federal Emission Control Act) and the StVO it is against the law to wilfully and knowingly violate these paragraphs and violation of those rules can result in a heavy fine. It seems that Germany has been taking the issue of pollution seriously way before the United Kingdom.
It’s already UK law to switch off an engine whilst waiting
Few people realise that vehicle idling is already an offence in the UK against the Road Traffic (Vehicle Emissions) (Fixed Penalty) (England) Regulations 2002. The law states that is an offence to idle your engine unnecessarily when stationary. If you fail to turn your engine off after being spoken to you may be issued with a fixed penalty notice of £20.However, it does not apply to vehicles moving slowly due to road works or congestion, or vehicles stopped at traffic lights.
What is needed are stronger fines with more enforcement by local authorities and better education for drivers. Some traffic light junctions can take 3 to 5 minutes to make a complete so switching off definitely has advantages in combating pollution and saving fuel.
Switching off an engine can considerably reduce engine emmisions
It’s a fact that if more drivers switch off their engines, emissions will drop. A report carried out in New York City showed that idling cars and trucks produce 130,000 tons of carbon dioxide each year. Switching off is good for the environment, good for your health and good for your wallet.
Switching off an engine saves lives
There is plenty of evidence that shows children are at risk of breathing related diseases if drivers leave engines running around schools. In 2017, the Guardian released a report which showed that students in 802 educational institutions were being exposed to levels of nitrogen dioxide (NOX) that breach EU legal limits and which the UK government accepts are harmful to health.
NOX emissions are known to kill humans with some reports suggestions 38,000 people die each year because of it.
“Students in 802 educational institutions were being exposed to levels of nitrogen dioxide (NOX) that breach EU legal limits and which the UK government accepts are harmful to health.”
- Better driver education to explain the advantages of switching off engines
- Forcing manufacturers to include stop-start technology in all new cars
- Including understanding of pollution in the driving test
- More advertising campaigns on TV and radio to education people to the benefits of switching off
- Higher fines for those who keep their engines idling