Engine idling

What is idling?

Idling is when an engine is left running when the vehicle is not moving. When the engine is idling, you’re wasting fuel and adding to CO2 emissions which contribute towards climate change. When the engine is running and burning fuel, other harmful gases are released which are linked to health problems like asthma and other lung diseases.

Find out more about the impact vehicle pollution has on our health.

What can I do to prevent idling?

It’s easy to do your bit to reduce emissions. Simply avoid unnecessarily running your vehicle’s engine when you can.

If you’re likely to be at a standstill for more than a minute or so, switch off the engine. This will have a positive impact on air pollution levels and saves fuel. Many new cars are fitted with a stop-start feature that does this for you automatically. Make sure this is switched on in your vehicle.

You can also drive off as soon as possible when you first start the car. It will warm up faster when the engine is in use.

Could you switch your engine off in any of the common situations below?

  • to warm the engine
  • while waiting for passengers
  • stopping at railway crossings
  • waiting to park
  • waiting at traffic lights for a minute or so
  • sitting in heavy congestion
  • running quick errands
  • waiting to order at a drive-thru restaurant
  • waiting to refuel or to have the car washed
  • stopping to talk to a friend
  • preparing to leave the house
  • defrosting car windows

How can switching off save me money?

With modern vehicles, the cost of switching off the engine and starting up again after a minute or more will be less than the cost of leaving the engine idling. With fuel prices on the rise, this handy technique saves you money and reduces the amount of harmful pollutants entering the air we breathe.

What are the rules around vehicle idling?

The Highway Code rule 123 states that you must not leave a parked vehicle unattended with the engine running or leave a vehicle engine running unnecessarily while the vehicle is stationary on a public road.

What else can you do?

We’ve put together some useful, at a glance, information on idling. Read our 5 reasons to switch off an idling engine to find out more.

You could save on fuel, reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality by following the Energy Savings Trust’s Efficient Driving guidance

The Clean Air Day team at Global Action Plan have come up with information about how to reduce and avoid outdoor air pollution.

Find out more Cleaner Air Portsmouth and follow us on Facebook @cleanerairportsmouth