‘Please do not idle,’ that’s the strict message from Monmouthshire County Council as it kicks off a new campaign aimed at raising awareness of the pollution caused by cars left idling.

As families prepare for the return to school this month, Monmouthshire County Council is launching a campaign to raise awareness of the pollution caused by cars left idling when waiting or when dropping off outside schools. The campaign includes a video highlighting the threat caused by car exhaust fumes. In the film, local schoolboy William gives some useful information and busts some common myths about idling engines.

A car is defined as ‘idling’ when its engine is left running while it is parked or stationary for over 30 seconds. Every minute, an idling car produces enough exhaust emissions to fill 150 balloons with harmful chemicals, including cyanide. It is also an offense under the Road Traffic Act to idle your vehicle unnecessarily.

The best solution to tackling pollution from vehicles is to walk or cycle, but in Monmouthshire’s rural communities and for those with mobility issues it’s not always possible. Motorists can still make a difference by switching off their vehicle when stationary.

Councillor Jane Pratt, cabinet member for Climate Emergency said: “It’s so important that we all work together to improve the quality of the air we breathe. There are things each of us can do to help. As part of our response to the Climate Emergency, we’re taking action to make it easier to walk and cycle in Monmouthshire and to enjoy the benefits of active travel. We know that sometimes you might need to drive but you can still do your bit by switching off your engine when you are stationary, for example outside a school or shop, or whilst waiting in car parks, leisure centres or lay-bys. By turning off your engine you will improve the quality of air inside and outside the car, and reduce pollution.”

Idling vehicles in school zones can be especially hard on young lungs. Vehicle exhaust in the air contains many pollutants, such as nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and particulate matter, that are linked to asthma and other lung diseases, allergies, heart disease, cancer and other health problems.   As many as one in five asthma cases in children in the UK is linked to traffic fumes and other pollution, totalling 40,000 cases a year*.

The council is also working with local schools, providing a toolkit for teachers and launching a competition to design an anti-idling poster. The child who designs the best, most effective poster will be able to see their design printed and used across the county.

“This campaign shows how one small everyday change can make a difference,” said Councillor Pratt, “Our schools are the right place to start because children are particularly at risk of harm. Whether you’re driving to school, hospital or going to the shops, please turn off your engine and do your bit to make Monmouthshire a cleaner place.”

The anti-idling campaign also sets out to bust some common excuses used to leave cars’ engines running:

1. “Thе еngіnе should bе warmed uр bеfоrе drіvіng.”

Truе, thе еngіnе must be wаrmеd up, but іdlіng is not an effective wау to do this, еvеn in соld wеаthеr. Thе bеѕt wау to warm up a vеhісlе is by drіvіng it. Wіth tоdау’ѕ mоdеrn еngіnеѕ, and the аdvеnt of electric engines, drivers nееd no more than about 30 seconds of іdlіng bеfоrе driving аwау, even on thе соldеѕt winter dауѕ.

2. “Idlіng is gооd for the еngіnе.”

No, it’s not. Excessive іdlіng can асtuаllу damage engine соmроnentѕ, іnсludіng суlіndеrѕ, ѕраrk plugs, and еxhаuѕt ѕуѕtеmѕ. An idling еngіnе іѕ not ореrаtіng at its реаk tеmреrаturе, which mеаnѕ that fuel dоesn’t undergo соmрlеtе соmbuѕtіоn, which can damage parts оf thе еngіnе.

3. “Turning оff аnd rеѕtаrtіng a vеhісlе іѕ hard оn the еngіnе.”

Aсtuаllу, frеԛuеnt rеѕtаrtіng hаѕ little іmрасt оn еngіnе соmроnеntѕ lіkе the battery аnd thе ѕtаrtеr mоtоr. 

For more information about the campaign visit www.monmouthshire.gov.uk or following the council’s page on Facebook and @MonmouthshireCC on Twitter.

You can see William’s video here:
https://youtu.be/KlbGQFCtrpQ