Enforcing Traffic Fines for Idling

Car Exhaust Photo

Image source: Mother Proof

Rule 123 of the Highway Code states that "If the vehicle is stationary and likely to remain so for more than a couple of minutes, you should switch off the engine to reduce emissions and oil pollution." The problem is that it also says, "However, it is permissible to leave the vehicle running if the vehicle is stationary in traffic." It is this part that has community members up in arms in Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex, where officials are encouraging law enforcement to, well, enforce the laws.

15 States in the US have anti-idling regulations, according to the US EPA and city officials are beginning to crack down - armed with stop watches and ticket books. Denver, CO cops began issuing tickets recently (at $475-105 a pop) for idling. The tickets have nothing to do with air quality or emissions, but rather are an attempt to deter all of the car theft in the city. Motorists who walk away from a running vehicle will return to find a ticket, if their vehicle is still there.Traffic wardens in Shoreham-by-Sea will be giving motorists a warning first, but then are allowed to give a £20 fine for motorists that do not comply. The area in question tends to have an elderly population, who have asthma, lung and heart conditions and are more sensitive to air pollution from idling cars. The plan is temporary for now, but if it does show improvement in air quality then officials will consider expanding it to other areas.

Idling cars slow down the catalytic converter, which is what helps keep emissions down, but only works when it is hot. If a car is going to be sitting for more than 30 seconds, it is better to shut it off, even though turning it on will use a burst of gas. While "an hour of idling can produce 2.36kg of carbon dioxide."

Signs will be installed at all intersections to remind drivers to turn off cars. But it doesn't really say how it will be enforced - whether wardens will be walking the lines wagging fingers or just standing at intersections. Could the red-light runner cameras eventually be fine-tuned to target idling motorists? What do you do if you're at an egregiously long traffic-light, do you turn off your car? What about the stop and start traffic, which is more common, how do you know when to turn your car off and when to turn it on and move up in the line? Is this just the latest addition to congestion charges? Oh the complexity of it all.

As I write this article there has been a truck idling out front for the last ten minutes. Thanks for the air pollution and not to mention noise pollution. Any Treehuggers have experience with these programs who can attest to the program?

::London Daily Mail
More on Traffic Improvements
The Traffic Calming Chicane
Further Thoughts on Turning Road Traffic into Electricity
How Public Transportation Might Just Save Your Life
How to Go Green: Cars

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