Penalty notice is no idle threat

It’s a bad habit and something many of us do – often without giving it a second thought – but leaving your car engine to idle not only wastes fuel and pollutes the environment, it’s also harmful to health.

It’s also a motoring mannerism which is on the increase and, to try and combat the problem, South Ayrshire Council undertook a series of spot checks on dallying drivers who allowed their car to idle when stationary – asking them to switch off, or risk coughing up a £20 fine.

The results produced some good news, with only one penalty notice being issued for excessive emissions – from a total of 210 cars tested.

Councillor John McDowall, South Ayrshire Council’s Portfolio Holder for Sustainability and the Environment commented: “The results of the emissions tests are excellent news for South Ayrshire, with 209 motorists well within emissions levels or switching off their engines when requested.

“The campaign made motorists aware they risk a fixed penalty charge of £20, or being reported to the Procurator Fiscal, if they refused to turn off an idling engine when asked and it has clearly worked.

“An idling engine produces up to twice as many exhaust emissions as an engine in motion pollutes the atmosphere and the fumes can aggravate asthma in over 60% of sufferers.

“Not only that, but unnecessary idling costs money – every 10 minutes of vehicle idling wastes a tenth of a litre fuel.”

The spot check patrols were carried out across South Ayrshire and officers offered information, advice and guidance on better motoring, as well asking motorists to switch off their engines to avoid unnecessary idling.

Councillor McDowall continued: “South Ayrshire is a fabulous place to live, work and visit and we’re lucky enough to enjoy great air quality, but we all need to do our bit to maintain this.

“Our campaign on idling was designed to help raise motorists’ awareness of the harm an idling engine can do, with many negative impacts on the atmosphere and on people’s health.

“As a rough guide, if you are going to be parked for more than 30 seconds, turn off your engine and restart when you are ready to move on. Better still, with the arrival of the fantastic warm weather, why not leave the car at home and walk or cycle to your destination?”

He concluded: “Switching off your engine and keeping your car in good order are simple and effective ways to help our environment, defeat the frustration caused by fumes and help us to prevent dawdling drivers from having to cough up!”