Every day, thousands of drivers idle needlessly on our roads. Idling wastes fuel and gives rise to greenhouse gas emissions as well as local air pollutants which harm public health.
Idling, which contributes to toxic emissions in the air we breathe, is when your vehicle’s engine is running when you're stationary for a period of longer than 30 seconds. If you're parked, waiting for someone or stuck in traffic, switch off your engine.
By trying to idle as little as possible, you can do your bit to help us tackle pollution in the air we breathe.
What we have done to tackle engine idling
In January 2019, we launched the Clean Air campaign. Residents were encouraged to make a pledge to reduce air pollution by using their vehicles less, to stop idling their car engines and to think about the ways in which they can reduce pollution in their own homes. It featured myth busting and aimed to raise awareness of the work taking place by the council. The campaign has seen the council work with local schools to encourage parents and children to walk, bike, cycle or scoot to school and reduce engine idling outside the school gates. Over 5,000 anti-idling stickers have been given out to residents, pupils, local buses, taxis etc to encourage people to ‘switch off their engine while waiting’.
With partners, we supported National Clean Air Day through an education and anti-idling awareness event at the train station.
Next steps - fines for idling
A year on from the start of our Clean Air campaign we have adopted powers to enforce stationary idling within The Road Traffic (Vehicles Emissions) (Fixed Penalty) (England) Regulations 2002.
Drivers who leave their engines running whilst stationary may be asked by an enforcement officer to switch off their engine. Raising awareness and education will remain our priorities.
If a driver does not comply with a request, they may be issued with a fixed penalty notice of £20.
These regulations cover all vehicles on public roads including private cars, motorbikes, delivery vehicles, taxis and buses. They do not apply to vehicles:
- moving slowly due to road works or congestion
- stopped at traffic lights
- under test or repair
- where the windscreen is being defrosted.
Please help us to tackle air pollution in Basingstoke and Deane by switching off your engine while your waiting.
Your questions answered
- Why is engine idling bad for air quality?
When your vehicle's engine is on, it uses fuel and emits harmful pollutants, greenhouse gases and particles into the air. This is unavoidable when you're driving, but if you're stationary, those emissions are unnecessary.
- Why should I stop idling?
- It’s bad for the environment – idling emits harmful pollutants, greenhouse gases and particles into the air. Car idling produces up to 150 balloons of harmful exhaust emissions per minute.
- It's bad for your health - when you're idling, you are emitting harmful gases into the air which are then drawn back into your car. Air pollution has been linked to a number of different health risks.
- It's bad for you wallet - idling wastes fuel and increases wear on your car. You could save money by switching off your engine.
- How long could I leave my car running idle?
If you are going to be stationary for two minutes or more, switch off your engine.
- Isn't letting my vehicle idle a good way to warm it up?
Vehicles don't need any longer than a few seconds of idling before they are ready to drive.
- Won't starting and stopping my engine be harmful?
No, turning your engine off and on again doesn't damage your engine, it's better for the health of your engine not to idle. Batteries on modern vehicles don't need the engine running to keep them charged. And you won't waste fuel by starting and stopping your engine.
- My vehicle has 'start-stop' technology, do I need to do anything?
Just leave the system enabled, you'll save money and won't have to worry about idling.
- Is idling illegal?
The Highway Code states that you must not idle on a public road unnecessarily.
The Road Traffic (Vehicle Emissions) (Fixed Penalty) (England) Regulations 2002 enable local authority authorised persons to request that the driver of a vehicle which is stationary on a road switch off the engine of that vehicle and to issue Fixed Penalty Notices to those who refuse to co-operate as they will be committing a stationary idling offence. A stationary idling offence is a failure to comply with the requirements of Regulation 98 of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986, as amended, which state that drivers shall switch off engines in stationary vehicles so far as necessary for the prevention of exhaust emissions.