More than one in four parents and carers have admitted to running their car engine while waiting at the gate to pick up their children from school.
As vehicle emissions are closely linked to respiratory and other health problems among children and adults, municipalities across the country have posted ‘no idling’ signs outside schools threatening fines of up to £ 80 for those who flout the rules .
But as schools reboot during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and more moms and dads admit they will drive their children instead of using public transportation, analysis suggests the problem could be seriously exacerbated.
Idle drivers: More than a quarter of parents say they keep their car running while waiting outside of school, despite ongoing reports that vehicle emissions increase the risk of health problems for adults and especially children
Studies by the charity Unicef have estimated that one in three children in the UK grows up with unsafe levels of air pollution.
That could get worse with 62 percent of parents saying they will be getting their children to and from school earlier as a result of the recent pandemic, according to a new poll by French carmaker Renault.
It revealed that of the 4,000 parents it surveyed, 27 percent idle their engines during the school run.
Many may not realize that by running the engine for convenience or keeping the heating or air conditioning running, they contribute to the emission of harmful particles that can harm children.
Fathers are 50 percent more likely to do it than mothers, it was found, with a third of men saying they wouldn’t turn off the car’s engine while waiting for their children, compared to one in five (22 percent) women .
Renault is studying the habits and attitudes of school-led parents as part of the new ‘Be Mindful, Don’t Idle’ campaign to improve dangerous levels of air pollution measured outside more than 8,500 schools, daycare centers and colleges in England, Scotland and Wales .
Renault has launched a campaign around engine idling after the French carmaker found that 62% of parents say they are more likely to drive their children to and from school as a result of the recent pandemic.
Of the reasons given for running their engines, nearly a third cited it because they had only been standing still for a ‘short time’ and a quarter said they wanted to keep the heating or air conditioning running.
About 23 percent said they should be ready to move their car to one of the limited parking spaces available at schools.
Worryingly, 60 percent of all drivers are unaware that it is illegal to idle their vehicle’s engine under Rule 123 of the Highways Code.
Authorities can now face flat-rate fines between £ 20 and £ 80 under Road Traffic Regulations 2002 and Section 42 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 in Scotland.
Municipalities in England, Scotland and Wales can impose fines of between £ 20 and £ 80 if drivers are caught running their motorbike while parked
According to Renault, the problem of idling is greatest within the built-up area and the outskirts of the city.
Half of them live in cities, but 12 percent of people in rural areas admit to doing so regularly.
By idling their engines for just 10 seconds, drivers waste more fuel than restarting the car’s engine, according to a report from EDF Energy.
Half of those who kept their engines running claim to do so for one to five minutes. Nearly seven percent estimate that they can do it on average for up to 15 minutes.
A 2019 study by Kings College London revealed that children in London who travel to schools in the capital are five times more exposed to air pollution than at any other time of the day.
Renault found that London was responsible for the highest number of offenders at idle speed, a total of 23 percent.
A 2019 study found that children in London who travel to schools in the capital are five times more exposed to air pollution than at any other time of the day.
Matt Shirley, Renault’s senior manager for electrification and new mobility, said: “The fact that the majority of people are unaware that idling is illegal only highlights the magnitude of the problem.
‘Every minute a car idles, it produces enough emissions to fill 150 balloons. It goes without saying that if the 27 percent of school-run trips stopped idling, the air quality for their children would improve significantly.
According to the study, a quarter of all school journeys are less than a mile in distance. However, more than half (54 percent) is between a mile and a half.
“This is not about demonizing the school run, our study underscores the importance, all the more since the locking, of the car,” Shirley added.
“We just want parents and guardians to be aware of the harmful effects of lazing around and change their behavior for their own children and those around them.”
Volvo cars are now equipped with new advanced air cleaners to block harmful emissions
Swedish carmaker Volvo has introduced a ‘world first of premium air quality technology’ into its cars that removes the small emissions particles that have been sucked into the interior.
The company’s new Advanced Air Cleaner technology comes with a sensor that measures tiny particles – known as PM 2.5 – levels.
When it detects high levels, it removes the fine particles from the cabin using a synthetic fiber and ionization filter. This would remove up to 95 percent of all PM 2.5 from the cabin.
Volvo’s new Advanced Air Cleaner technology comes with a sensor that measures tiny particles – also known as PM 2.5 – levels that are displayed on the infotainment screen
When the system detects high PM 2.5 levels, the fine particles are removed using a synthetic fiber filter and ionization. This would remove up to 95% of the toxic emissions
“With our Advanced Air Cleaner technology, you can be confident that the air you breathe into your Volvo is cleaner and healthier,” said Anders Löfvendahl, Volvo’s senior technical expert on cabin air quality.
“We believe that clean air is good for you from both a health and safety perspective, and we will continue to push the boundaries in this area.”
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