Drivers face new £40 fine for leaving cars running as doctor calls for stronger measures for motorists

Drivers face new £40 fine for leaving cars running as doctor calls for stronger measures for motorists

Drivers warned of being fined when at the wheel

Felix Reeves

By Felix Reeves

Published: 07/01/2024

- 08:00

The new idling laws were introduced at the start of the year

A doctor is calling for harsher punishments for people who keep their car engine running, saying that it would help to clean up the air.

New rules in Brighton have dictated that drivers who leave their engines running when parked risk a £40 fine, with fines falling to £20 if paid within 10 days.

Signs were installed across the city in December with enforcement starting at the start of this year.

Motorists can be slapped with a fine if their idling cars are in a parking bay, taxi rank and other parts of the road, although the rule does not apply to sitting in traffic.

Fumes from car exhausts

Highway Code Rule 123 deals with drivers and the environment


Daniel Roberts, an A&E doctor in the city, described the introduction of the fines as a “sticking plaster”, adding that the number of respiratory cases in Royal Sussex Hospital was rising.

Dr Roberts, who is also a member of the Clean Air for Brighton and Hove campaign group, said: “We support any measures that will help to clean up the air of our city but it will only make a small difference and it seems to be a bit of a sticking plaster.

“We would support much more broader and effective measures, such as ultra low emission zones and smoke-free areas,” he told the BBC.

Rule 123 of the Highway Code states that drivers must not leave a parked vehicle unattended or stationary with the engine running unnecessarily on a public road.

Drivers are being told to apply the parking brake and switch off the engine if the vehicle remains stationary for more than a couple of minutes.

This will help to reduce emissions, lessen the impact of noise pollution and could even waste fuel.

The Highway Code does state that drivers can leave the engine running if the vehicle is stationary in traffic or for diagnosing faults.

In other parts of the country, drivers can be fined £20 if they leave their engine idling when parked, with the fine rising in price if it is not paid within 28 days, when it rises to £40.

This will turn it into a Penalty Charge Notice. Drivers need to pay this fine within 14 days or the fine will increase again to £80.

If an environmental enforcement officer witnesses a car idling, they will speak to the driver to let them know they are committing an offence.

They will take the details of the driver, including their registration number and issue them with a fixed penalty notice.

If a motorist refuses to give their details or drivers off, the council will contact Sussex Police to collect their details and the FPN will be sent in the post.

Councillor Tim Rowkins, chair of the City Environment, South Downs and The Sea Committee, backed the new measures, saying it would help the most vulnerable in Brighton.

Speaking last year, he said: “Improving the city’s air quality is extremely important, especially for those who suffer from long term respiratory conditions like asthma and lung disease.


Brighton idling sign

The signs in Brighton were installed in December


“Enforcing engine idling is something we hope will deter motorists from releasing harmful emissions unnecessarily.

“We’re asking those parked up to switch off their engines and reduce air pollution.”

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