Fleet News

Call for “four-figure fines” for fleet drivers who leave engines idling

A council leader is calling for instant “four-figure fines” for company vehicle drivers who leave their engines running while parked.

The Government is currently considering proposals to give local authorities more power to reduce pollution after calls by a number of councils.

At present, local authorities are unable to impose penalties unless drivers ignore an initial warning and remain stationary for at least another minute.

The fine is £20 or £80 depending on which regulations the authority uses to enforce the law.

Westminster City Council leader Nickie Aiken told The Times: “Fines are our last resort but when we establish a pattern of persistent idling we need to be able to send a message.”

Aiken said fines for company vehicles, such as supermarket delivery vans, that were caught idling needed to be “a four-figure sum to be a sufficient deterrent”.

Westminster council last year issued just 20 fines last year, while Camden Council, which also wants to be able to issue instant fines, has warned 400 drivers but issued no fines after giving enforcement officers the power to issue fixed penalties in March last year.

Up to 18 local authorities in London have been involved in “idling action events”, with drivers approached and asked to switch off their engines when parked.

Islington council said 80% of drivers switch off if requested in a friendly and non-judgmental manner.

Environment secretary Michael Gove has supported the call to give council officers the power to fine drivers without warning.and told The Times that instant fines for repeat offenders should be considered as a solution to the problem.

He added it was important to ensure the new powers would be used proportionately by councils.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “We are determined to reduce the damaging environmental impacts of drivers who keep their engines running while stationary, especially those in school zones.

“This is why we are making guidance for local authorities clearer, so that they know how and when to target drivers falling foul of the law. We will also be polling local authorities to understand how any potential review of these powers may look in future.”

Paul Loughlin, a motoring law solicitor at Stephensons Solicitors LLP, added: “These powers are likely to prove an effective deterrent and will go some way to reducing the pollution levels in our towns and cities, however it remains unclear how local authorities will enforce them.

“There is an onus on the Government to spell out how these powers will be used as well as making it clear for drivers to turn off their engines while parked.

“The fines, some of which stretching to £1,000 for repeat offenders, will be keenly felt in particular by businesses and couriers, who often leave their vehicles running while making deliveries.”   

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  • Chris Byrne - 15/05/2019 12:03

    Why only Company Vehicles? Why are private drivers being ignored? A DoT Spokesman made particular mention of idling in School Zones. Is that not likely to be parents ion the school run in their Chelsea tractors?

  • Paul Barker - 15/05/2019 14:05

    I don't suppose their office is unheated in the middle of winter or they have a load that can go off if the chiller isn't running? Thought not!

  • The Engineer - 15/05/2019 19:58

    Suppose someone has to wait for an indeterminate event, can't leave the vehicle and its freezing cold? Be a good time to have a PHEV with a decent level of charge! (they have electric heating and the battery can run it for a fair while without the engine being needed to run)

  • Julie - 17/05/2019 00:54

    I am a fleet driver who has to keep the engine running to charge equipment and to keep warm or cool in the hot or cold weather we are already penalised as we only get a mileage allowance for when we are travelling to and from sites. We also have to wait in our vehicles which carry equipment for notification of jobs and personal safety. Our cars are our mobile work space. We have to idle our vehicles during working hours.

  • Amanda - 23/05/2019 19:04

    I politely asked a young courier driver yesterday why he didn't switch his engine off whilst collecting parcels from our neighbour in a small business estate that we work in. He was stationary for many minutes with lots of parcels to scan and load into his van. He replied that he doesn't have time between deliveries and collections. I told him that doesn't make sense as it takes no time to turn the key. It wasn't particularly hot or cold outside so I doubt it has anything to do with heating or air conditioning. I asked if he had considered the cost of wasted fuel, the environmental impact and just the consideration of people like myself having to listen to the noise of his engine running and to suffer the smell of diesel fumes in our relatively quiet small courtyard (and my partner has a lung condition, which I didn't mention). He quite rudely responded that the cost isn't his problem as it's not his money and he just mumbled something negative about his thoughts on the environment and basically said he doesn't care about anything else I mentioned. I asked if he had heard of climate change and the fact that older people like me were trying to do our bit for the sake of younger people like him. I think his response begun with the letter 'f' and ended with 'off'. I'm therefore sitting here Googling what the law is regarding engine idling, particularly with courier drivers. This driver (and many others) does this regularly and I assume on every single delivery / collection he makes. If this is one driver with that attitude in one small part of the country, it doesn't take much to add up the cost of this, both financially and environmentally throughout the country.

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