Public Health England (PHE) is calling for a complete ban on cars idling outside school in order to cut air pollution.
Leaving your engine running idle “unnecessarily” whilst parked is already subject to a fine. Some areas also have an anti-idling policy specifically outside of schools already.
Sheffield introduced warning signs in June 2018 to inform parents that they could be fined if they leave the engine running outside the school gates whilst waiting for their children. They were one of the first cities to do this outside of London.
The new PHE review highlights other vulnerable hot spots where local authorities could implement no-idling zones including hospitals and care homes.
Why call for a ban?
The figures are compelling.
- According to Public Health England: 28,000 to 36,000 deaths a year in the UK could be attributed to long-term exposure to air pollution.
- According to previous research from ClickMechanic, each driver who doesn’t turn their car engine off during a 10 minute period waiting for their children produces enough excess fumes to fill two jumbo jets a year.
- UK scientists estimate air pollution cuts British people’s lives by an average of six months
Threat to health
PHE describes air pollution as the biggest environmental threat to health in the UK. They say there is strong evidence that air pollution causes the development of coronary heart disease, strokes, respiratory disease, lung cancer and exacerbates asthma.
From April 8th 2019, London will introduce an “Ultra Low Emission Zone”. The Low Emission Zone (LEZ) in London has been in place since 2008. PHE is now recommending a wider uptake of low emission or clean air zones to discourage the most highly polluting vehicles from entering populated areas.
Although England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales lead on air quality policy in their own territories, PHE contributes to the implementation of the government’s UK-wide strategy.
The PHE review also recommends:
- Redesigning cities so people aren’t so close to highly polluting roads. This could include things like wider streets and hedgerows to screen against pollutants
- Investment in clean public transport and more foot and cycle paths
- Encouraging more people to opt for low emission vehicles and more ambitious targets for installing electric car charging points