Be switched on to the benefits of switching off

Published: Thursday 8 October 2020

Graphic with 30 children and the words 30 good reasons

Drivers across South Lanarkshire are being reminded to switch off their engines to reap multiple benefits.

The council is launching a refreshed Engine Idling Campaign, appropriately on Clean Air Day (Thursday, 8 October).

The campaign will focus on drivers who wait with their engines running, particularly at schools, leisure facilities and hot-food drive-through outlets.

Head of Fleet and Environmental Services Shirley Clelland said: “Clean air is always vital for our good health and wellbeing but this has never been as important as it is now, during the Covid pandemic.

“We all have our part to play in protecting and improving the quality of the air that we all breathe, and we will all benefit from doing so.” 

“We are tempted to leave the engine running in colder weather to keep our car warm and in warmer weather for our air conditioning. Sometimes it is just habit that stops us from turning off our engines, so at South Lanarkshire we want to encourage a new habit – switching off!

“We can’t forget, also, the need to think about when we turn on our engines in the first place. In colder weather, cars are often switched on and left idling to defrost the windows and heat them up, but this is not only using fuel but polluting the air for any passers-by and those who live around us. Modern cars heat up quickly when we start driving, anyway.”

Stationary, idling vehicles can produce twice as many exhaust emissions as a vehicle that is on the move, and these fumes contain pollutants that can irritate and cause inflammation of the lungs as well as lowering resistance to respiratory infections such as Covid-19 and ’flu.

People with heart and lung conditions are particularly vulnerable, with 62% of people with asthma reporting that traffic fumes make their condition worse.

Councillor John Anderson, the Chair of Community and Enterprise Resources, said: “Children actually breathe 50% more for their size than adults, making them even more vulnerable to pollutants, but unfortunately engine idling is common outside schools, leisure centres and culture venues. Drivers keep their engines running while the children are dropped off and picked up at times when lots of children, including their own, are close by.

“When a vehicle is waiting at a school, leisure or hot-food venue, we are simply asking that the driver turns off the engine if the vehicle is likely to be stopped for more than 30 seconds.

“It could make the world of a difference – and a difference to the world.”

Vehicle idling unnecessarily is an offence, and officers from South Lanarkshire Council will be patrolling the streets around schools, leisure facilities and drive-through food outlets. Any driver found to be idling their vehicle unnecessarily will receive a warning and, if the driver fails to turn the engine off, they may be issued with a £20 fixed-penalty notice.

If a driver of a school bus or taxi service is found to be idling, the driver’s details and vehicle information will be recorded and a warning letter will be issued direct to the driver. Repeat patrols will take place and, if further engine idling is seen, the driver will be issued with a fixed-penalty notice.

Anyone wishing further information about engine idling or vehicle emissions can find it online at the Vehicle emissions page on the council website or can email Environmental Services.