Campaign urges drivers to switch off car engines
Published: Friday 6th October 17
A campaign to tackle air pollution has continued with drivers in Tooting encouraged not to leave car engines idling.
Student school councillors take a fun approach to learning about air quality
Wandsworth is one of 15 local authorities taking part in the Vehicle Idling Action Campaign, launched a year ago with support from the Mayor of London’s Air Quality Fund.
The borough’s network of volunteer Air Quality Champions help spread the message about the amount of pollution caused by idling engines and the impact on local air quality.
The campaign includes actions to target parents who park outside schools and leave engines running while they wait to pick up their children. Last week officers and Air Quality Champions went to Smallwood School in Tooting where a special assembly was given to more than 200 school pupils. Student councillors also played a giant air quality-themed games of snakes and ladders in the playground to help drive the message home.
A special assembly was held for students
Training was provided to air quality champions on the impact of vehicle idling on air quality and afterwards at pick-up time the champions spoke to parents at Smallwood and nearby Broadwater Primary schools, as well as to drivers in Tooting High Street. In total they engaged with 48 people on how everyone can contribute to improving air quality by turning off their engines while they are waiting or parked.
Recently the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence and Public Health England recommended that drivers of idling vehicles should be fined because idling engines can produce twice as much pollution as the engine of a car in motion, and the emissions contain a cocktail of dangerous chemicals.
Modern engines and batteries are no longer damaged by frequent restarts so drivers are urged to turn their engines off if they are waiting for more than a minute or so. Restarting engines uses less fuel and creates less pollution than leaving them running.
Talking to drivers at pick-up time
Wandworth Council is taking a wide range of actions to tackle air pollution in the borough, including:
- 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.
- A rolling programme of environmental theatre productions in local schools to teach children how their travel choices affect air quality.
- 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.
- 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.
- A free airTEXT messaging service warns residents when high pollution levels are forecast.
- Making the borough more pedestrian friendly in certain hotspot areas.
- Lobbying for higher capacity rail, bus, riverbus and tube services so more residents can switch from cars to public transport.
- The council's Smarter Driving campaign encourages drivers to take simple steps to reduce their emissions, like inflating tires.
For more information about the work being carried out locally to improve air quality, visit www.wandsworth.gov.uk/airquality.
Read the Air Quality Action Plan
Volunteer to become an Air Quality Champion