Fleet News

Drivers told to ‘switch off’ their engines or face being fined

Islington Council is cracking down on idling vehicles that churn out unnecessary pollution, in what is thought to be the first campaign of its type in the UK.

Enforcement officers are tackling hotspots in the borough, informing and educating drivers about the advantages of turning off their engine.

An idling engine can release as much pollution into the air as a moving vehicle. Turning off the engine when stationary reduces the amount of harmful pollutants being released and saves on fuel, says the council.

Council officers will continue to advise drivers about the harmful effects of leaving their vehicles idling, but will also issue on-the-spot fines for those drivers who do not switch off their engines when asked.

Islington has been working with Transport for London (TfL) to encourage high-polluting buses to switch off their engines when idling at bus stops - at driver switch over points and bus stops at the end of routes - but wants the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, to do more to protect the health of residents in the borough.

Cllr Claudia Webbe, Islington Council's executive member for environment, said: “We are committed to improving air quality in Islington which is why we are clamping down on idling buses, lorries and diesel cars, as part of our air quality strategy.

“We are taking action to tackle the problem of air pollution in Islington but we need Boris Johnson to do his share: by introducing a low-polluting bus fleet, and addressing the high number of polluting lorries that travel through our streets on a daily basis affecting residents’ health.”

The Mayor’s own statistics estimate that over 200 deaths each year in Islington are caused by poor air quality.

The campaign is the latest part of the council’s commitment to reducing air pollution and increasing air quality, and follows the launch of Islington’s Air Quality strategy, the introduction of 20mph speed limits and the ‘Air Text’ service for residents.

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  • Darren - 05/08/2014 12:08

    An idling engine uses fuel at an average rate of 1 litre of fuel per hour, considerably less than a vehicle in motion trying to overcome its own weight, wind resistance etc. Yes, turning off idling engines will make a difference to local air quality, but not as much as they think. Also, shutting down and re-starting an engine regularly puts incredible strain on the engines mechanical components, especially with modern low viscosity oils, leading to heavy engine wear much earlier in the life cycle of the engine. I suppose damaging engines is not on Islington Councils concern list

  • Sebastian Stardust - 05/08/2014 12:18

    Exactly what offence will they be fined for? Are they making up laws as they go along

  • Adam Wright - 05/08/2014 12:56

    About time too. Why drivers do "Drive Thru" at fast food outlets then sit there with their engines running whilst they eat is beyond me and narrow-minded at the very least. Just because you might pay tax on a company asset doesn't give you the right to abuse it and reflects poorly on any environmental credentials your company champions.

    • Rich - 05/08/2014 13:44

      @Adam Wright - You have just answered your own question Fast food outlets and drivers who leave their engines running

    • Adam Wright - 05/08/2014 14:20

      Rich - More a statement of despair really. They do it because they can. Some places impose fines for discarding your wrappers out the car windows instead of using the bins. Leaving your engine running unnecessarily should attract similar penalties, especially when using the facilities inside which would minimise the impact on everyone else. Not so sure about turning off at traffic lights etc, but as technology advances and Stop-Start becomes more prevalent this becomes less of an issue. Perhaps a countdown on the lights might help people decide if it was appropriate for their circumstances - and improve traffic flow too.

    • Craig C - 16/10/2014 01:00

      @Adam Wright - I'm afraid that countdowns aren't possible in the uk in any meaningful sense; traffic systems in cities don't "know" how long it will be until the next change of stage. It's ok in some other countries where they use fixed time for traffic control, but usually the lights don't know when they'll actually change until the last few seconds, maybe. Look up SCOOT and MOVA if interested.

  • Nick Simpson - 05/08/2014 13:14

    Another revenue stream hidden behind a convenient green agenda. Maybe if they ensured that traffic flowed properly and wasn't stationery that would help with the pollution.

  • Nick Simpson - 05/08/2014 13:18

    More fuel is consumed turning engines on and off then left idling. Take a look at the exhaust when a vehicle (especially diesels) starts up. Where do they get this so called expert advice from ?

  • Rich - 05/08/2014 13:41

    If you didn't have so many buses clogging up the roads with too many traffic lights set to make all journeys hell, you wouldn't have cars idling for so long. Funny they can find the money to use enforcement offices to walk around and annoy frustrated drivers

    • Nick Simpson - 05/08/2014 13:52

      @Rich - Absolutely agree. We have to deliver throughout London everyday and they make it more like the Krypton Factor everyday. Spend most of the day in clogged up traffic (caused by the traffic systems you have mentioned) with the reward of no where to park or unload when you get to your destination. But plenty of tickets in the post. "Bandit Country"

  • AJB - 05/08/2014 15:02

    Another revenue stream for TFL/Islington - does anyone really believe it has anything to do with air pollution - as for 'the mayor's own statistics' of over 200 deaths due to poor air quality - so that'll be on the 'cause of death' then.

  • Bob the Engineer - 06/08/2014 08:22

    Many vehicles have stop-start technology that does this automatically, big but, the car does so on the basis of is the engine warm enough, is there enough heat to keep the cabin warm or is the air conditioning needed to keep it tolerably cool. This arbitrary law wouldn't consider any of that. Cold engines pollute far more, misted up cabins causing crashes or people suffering heatstroke in a big jam, Imagine a typical London lengthy jam up in dark Winter and the headlights and electrics of cars constantly on draining the batteries until sooner or later some won't start, imagine the jams then! They need to fund some new underground system so expect 1001 new ways to milk the driver to help the coffers to appear, they know many people who drive into London don't do so willingly but on business need so they see the employers as a unlimited revenue source to tap in to.

  • Liz Hollands - 06/08/2014 09:38

    Stationary idling has been an offence since 2002.

  • Mr.Bean - 06/08/2014 10:38

    How can they apply a fine? To my knowledge a vehicle is only stationary when the engine if off and the hand brake is on. Unless the Highway code has changed over the last 20 years in this area. To be fair in that area most people are driving large 4x4...

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