Remind drivers of the dangers of idling

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People driving cars in Portsmouth have been asked to remember the phrase ‘Cough, cough, engine off’ when queuing in traffic, waiting at traffic lights or picking up someone.

Portsmouth City Council is working to raise awareness of the dangers of keeping your engine idling unnecessarily and asking drivers to switch off their engines when not moving, such as when waiting at traffic lights or in traffic , to help improve air quality in the city.

Air pollution is bad for health, shortens life and affects people at all ages. The three main conditions associated with air pollution are respiratory conditions such as asthma, heart disease and lung cancer. It is also associated with dementia, low birth weight and type 2 diabetes.

The groups most affected by air pollution are the elderly, children, people with underlying health conditions, pregnant women, communities located in more polluted areas, such as near roads busy and low-income communities.

There are small changes everyone can make to reduce their exposure to air pollution. In addition to turning off your engine when queuing, this also includes:

  • cycling, walking, driving a rental e-scooter or taking the bus for short trips
  • choose quieter routes with fewer vehicles when choosing to leave the car at home
  • open your windows when you clean, do crafts, smoke, or do other activities that release pollutants directly into your home
  • reduce the amount you burn in your home and garden

If you plan to be stationary for at least 30 seconds, it’s worth turning off your engine.

Cllr Lynne Stagg, Cabinet Member for Traffic and Transport at Portsmouth City Council, said: ‘Switching off your engine when you’ve stopped at lights or are waiting to pick someone up is an easy habit to form and can make a huge difference to air quality. We know that the most vulnerable members of our community are most affected by poor air quality and we must protect everyone in Portsmouth from preventable disease.

“I recently met some wonderful young environmental champions attending Milton Park Primary School and was impressed with their dedication to the environment and air quality. I hope they and the children of Portsmouth see our signs and remind their parents that the next time you stop briefly at lights or in traffic, remember ‘Cough Cough, Engine Off’.

Wendy Fowler, Principal of Milton Park Primary School, said: “I am so proud of the Green Champions at Milton Park Primary School who are at the forefront of making our school and the wider community green. They focus on recycling, energy saving and environmental awareness. They are passionate about making a difference and ensuring their voice is heard and listened to.

For more information visit cleanerairportsmouth.co.uk/coughcough


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