Drivers on school run need to park sensibly and limit engine emissions

Published: Friday 5th January 18

Parents who drive their children to and from school are being advised that on Monday the council will begin a crackdown on those who park dangerously or leave their engines running unnecessarily during drop offs.

Parents on the school run are given a five minute grace period to park on yellow lines whilst dropping off their children. They will not receive a ticket if they don’t exceed the five minute limit.

However those who park dangerously on top of junctions, or across driveways, or leave their cars double parked will face being penalised.

These anti-idling signs have been installed at many local schools

Anyone who parks or stops on the yellow zig-zag markings directly outside school entrances is likely to receive an instant penalty ticket – handed out either by a uniformed parking attendant or in the post if the offence has been caught on CCTV.

And drivers who stop and leave their engines running unnecessarily are also likely to be fined. Preventing motorists from leaving engines idling for no reason is one way the council is working to improve local air quality levels, especially outside schools.

Transport and environment spokesman Cllr Jonathan Cook said: “Most parents on the school run are eminently sensible and do not cause any problems.

“However there are a few that park dangerously or leave their engines running for extended periods of time while talking to their children or other parents or while they do a quick dash through the school gates.

“This is the kind of behaviour we are trying to discourage. Leaving engines running unnecessarily damages the air we all breathe including their own children so we are keen to stamp it out.

“Similarly anyone who stops on the yellow zig-zags obstructs sight lines for both drivers and children crossing the road and can be incredibly dangerous which is why we are concentrating on this too.

“If parents park sensibly, even on a yellow line, they have plenty of time to walk their children through the school gates and return and they won’t get a parking ticket.

“But anyone parking dangerously or leaving their engines running is unlikely to get much sympathy.”

Here are other things the council is doing to improve local air quality levels:

• Training members of the council’s civic enforcement team how to explain to drivers of stationary vehicles why they should not leave engines running. If drivers refuse to switch engines off they can issue fixed penalty notices.
• Recruiting and training air quality champions.
• A rolling programme of environmental theatre productions in local schools to teach children how their travel choices affect air quality.
• Advising new building developments and infrastructure projects in Nine Elms on reducing dust and diesel pollution
• Supporting Clean Air Day and encouraging local people to make clean air pledges
• Helping schools develop School Travel Plans which reduce the number of cars used on the school run through initiatives like 'walking buses' and car pools.
• Championing car clubs which dramatically reduce total vehicle use and take older, more polluting cars off the road. Wandsworth now has the highest car club membership in London.
• Providing a comprehensive network of electric vehicle charging points.
• Promoting cycling and investing in the borough’s cycle network. Wandsworth now has the fastest growing cycling rate in the country according to Government statistics.
• Free bike safety lessons for children and adults to give more residents the confidence and skills they need to start cycling.
• Introducing a borough-wide 20mph speed limit.
• Restrictions on delivery vehicles in busy high streets
• A free airTEXT messaging service warns residents when high pollution levels are forecast.
• Lobbying for higher capacity rail, bus, riverbus and tube services so more residents can switch from cars to public transport.
• Lobbying for cleaner buses.
• The council's Smarter Driving campaign encourages drivers to take simple steps to reduce their emissions, like inflating tires, and offers free emissions checks.

For more information about the work being carried out locally to improve air quality, visit

Read the Air Quality Action Plan or volunteer to become an Air Quality Champion.

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Recent comments

I welcome the policy, but without enforcement it is worthless. The council needs to step up enforcement and I would suggest starting with the areas around schools. Not only do these idling cars essentially ring a school with pollution at drop/pick-up times, it impacts those who reside around them with a huge blast of pollution and noise. Park sensibly, walk if you live less than 20 minutes walk away and shut off your vehicle. It doesn't take a genius to figure it out.
Christopher Wold

5 July 2018

Could the £40 fine be issued to all the coaches parked stationary with their engines left running in Battersea Park.There were 4 parked side by side yesterday with idling engines in the southern car park. Could fines also be issued to all the daily film crew vehicles parked also in the park with their engines & generators left running.This is one of London’s finest parks, a green sanctuary which is fast turning into an NCP carpark full of trucks, vans & buses with their engines left running creating pollution & noise.
Gill Allen

11 January 2018

Please pay a visit to Viewfield Road and Seymour Road SW18, parents of St Michael's School frequently park dangerously on corners making it unsafe for children crossing the roads.

8 January 2018

Please ensure that school buses also comply with safety rules ie not parking on zigzag lines at restricted times, not parking on the pavement and not loading children from the middle of the road. Buses at Thomas' in Broomwood Road is a regular offender
Janet Johnson

6 January 2018

In Chelsea - off Royal Hospital Road - I've noticed signs saying 'not to leave engines running' with a £40. fine if caught idling. couldn't this be put into practice in Wandsworth.
Liz D

6 January 2018

Not only 'school run cars' I see idling in Vicarage Crescent, Battersea. Nearly every time I leave home - walking along Vicarage Crescent - I see at east 2 cars or vans parked with their engines running. Maybe we should take photos and e-mail pictures to who ever can deal with it.
Liz D

6 January 2018

Well done. Not before time.
susan lofthouse

5 January 2018

This is good news. I would also draw the council’s attention to the copious number of utility vehicles who idle the WHOLE day near where I live whilst their crew work on the railway or somesuch. Companies which do so: Network rail, McNicholas, Civil Rail Solutions. I urge the council to deal with this also as a matter of importance.
N Campbell

5 January 2018

This is very welcome. I live adjacent to a school where a large proportion of pupils arrive by car. Parking on yellow lines is common, impeding buses, as is parking immediately adjacent to a pedestrian crossing where there are zigzag lines. Congestion at peak hours is chronic. This move from the Council will help but it would be good to see fewer cars dropping off children and more walking and cycling.
Ken Powell

5 January 2018