Tackling engine idling
Engines Off Every Stop is a Mayor of London led initiative that asks you to turn off your engine when you stop.
Engine idling when stationary is a totally avoidable source of air pollution.
Air pollution is the major environmental risk to everyone’s health. Exposure to air pollution can cause symptoms like coughs, headaches and skin conditions.
Dirty air also causes long-term health conditions and chronic diseases, such as asthma, bronchitis and cancer, heart, liver and nervous conditions, even dementia.
Children and elderly people are especially vulnerable to the effects of air pollution.
How you can help
Switching your engine off:
- improves the health of drivers, other road users and pedestrians
- saves money by avoiding unnecessary fuel waste
- reduces air pollution
- avoids causing noise and odour nuisance to local residents
- makes sure you won’t get fined! Roadside idling is against the law, in Southwark, and many other places in London, you may get a Penalty Charge Notice
Myth: if I cut my engine and restart it the ignition produces more pollution.
Truth: this is not true for modern engines, especially if your engine is still warm. Idling for 60 seconds (much less if your car is new) makes more pollution than restarting your engine.
Myth: if I’m parked on a yellow line, keeping my engine running means I won’t get a fine.
Truth: you can be fined you if you are parked somewhere you shouldn’t be, whether your engine is running or not. You can also be fined for idling.
Myth: it’s cold outside. I need to keep the engine running to keep the heater on.
Truth: if you switch the engine off when you park and keep the ignition on, the heater should stay warm for up to 30 minutes, and you won’t be breathing in harmful fumes.
Myth: it’s better to idle, because stopping and starting will wear out the engine.
Truth: this is no longer the case with modern engines. In fact, incomplete combustion due to engine idling dirties your engine and increases wear and tear. Looking after your engine is important - you can do this by only keeping it on when you need it to move.
Please remember to switch off your engine:
- in the car park
- if you are charging your phone or listening to the radio
- if you are waiting for someone
- keeping warm or staying cool
- pulled over, or taking a break
- if you get out your vehicle, turn off the engine.
- if you will be stationary for more than one minute, switch off your engine as soon as you are stopped
When you are in charge of a vehicle, you are responsible for the air pollution caused by the idling engine.
About the Idling Action London project
Southwark and 30 other London Boroughs are taking part in Idling Action London.
Idling action london (PDF, 2.8mb) has a website where you can find more information.
Page last updated: 22 February 2023