New proposals announced by the Government could lead to much stiffer penalties for motorists who leave their engines running when they are parked by the side of the road.
According to Chris Grayling (Transport Secretary), a forthcoming public consultation will seek to raise fines for such drivers and help combat the rising levels of air pollution, especially in vulnerable areas.
Many new and used cars emit a significant amount of airborne pollutants into the atmosphere while idling, and this can be especially harmful in public places such as outside schools or at bus and taxi ranks.
For every minute that a typical vehicle has its engine running in a stationary location, approximately 150 balloons worth of harmful gases and pollutants are released into the air; these include cyanides, nitrous oxides and other dangerous chemicals.
These pollutants have proven links to conditions such as lung disease, respiratory issues and certain cancers which present a clear and present danger to public health in the UK.
It is preferable that drivers turn off their engines where possible to help reduce this unnecessary pollution and make our atmosphere less toxic.
The current level of fines which range between £20 to £80 are clearly not proving enough of a deterrent either to the public or the motor trade, leading to a serious build-up of pollution around schools and other public places.
New proposals could well suggest a baseline fine of £100 for an offending motorist, with fines expected to be higher for vehicles that are larger or emit a greater amount of harmful gases.
Commercial vehicle drivers or repeat offenders could potentially face a hefty fine of up to £500 for future offences, clearly a much stiffer penalty than currently exists.
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The UK government has a growing range of clear guidelines and policies to improve air quality, including a tentative commitment to stopping sales of both petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040 and of course a huge investment in cleaner fuels and green technologies for motorists.
The new proposed changes would be one of the biggest changes put in place in the last two decades and will certainly help with the longer-term plans to improve the UK’s air.
The public consultation is expected to commence in summer 2019 and should help bring about a much stiffer range of penalties that councils are empowered to hand out to offending motorists.
While changes are unlikely to be part of an insurer’s remit, or be part of stiffer motor trade insurance guidelines, it should certainly help improve the behaviour of motorists when it comes to leaving their vehicles idling in public spaces.