Fuel-saving driving law could help drivers save £160 every year

Highway Code changes slammed by Steve McNamara

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Rule 123 of the Highway Code deals with “the driver and the environment” and outlines how motorists should follow the rules. It states: “You must not leave a parked vehicle unattended with the engine running or leave a vehicle engine running unnecessarily while that vehicle is stationary on a public road. 

“Generally, if the vehicle is stationary and is likely to remain so for more than a couple of minutes, you should apply the parking brake and switch off the engine to reduce emissions and noise pollution. 

“However it is permissible to leave the engine running if the vehicle is stationary in traffic or for diagnosing faults.”

According to the RAC, some authorities charge a £20 fixed penalty notice for emission offences and stationary idling under the Road Traffic Regulations 2022.

In some instances, there is the possibility for the fine to be increased to £80.

However, it’s important to note that fines are imposed only if a motorist refuses to switch off their engine when asked to do so by an authorised person.

Drivers may find themselves facing the £20 fine more frequently if they idle outside a school.

Currently, petrol remains at around 164.7p per litre, while diesel continues to rapidly climb to 187.55p per litre.

While drivers face these slowly rising fuel prices, they are being urged to change their habits, or face expensive costs.

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Duncan McClure Fisher, founder and CEO of MotorEasy, said: “One thing many people do that is entirely unnecessary is to leave their engine idling.

“This can be done first thing in the morning to ‘warm it up’ or when stuck in traffic. 

“Even dropping off something at a friend’s house can see people leave the motor running instead of turning off the ignition.”

He added that some drivers are idling for 10 minutes to warm the car up, five days a week, as well as spending another 30 minutes per week stuck in traffic.

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Research has shown that an idling engine can burn through 3 to 4p of fuel a minute, according to Mr McClure Fisher.

As a result, this could add up to £166 a year that drivers are wasting just by keeping their car on.

He also highlighted the damage it was doing to the environment by producing emissions without the car moving.

Data released under a Freedom of Information request found that just one in every 1,000 drivers reported for idling were fined in Central London.

Since 2017, Westminster Council has received more than 70,000 reports of idling drivers via its “Report It” website, but only 63 fines were issued to drivers.

Only half of those who had fines issued to them actually paid the £80 charge.

The legality of idling on a private driveway depends on its classification as a road. 

Annex 4 of the Highway Code states that references to ‘road’ include: “Footpaths, bridleways and cycle tracks, and many roadways and driveways on private land (including many car parks).”

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