Charged for being in control of an idle vehicle?

A recent report in the Belfast Telegraph suggested that there were now a staggering 48 motoring offences in Ireland that would see transgressors end up with penalty points on their licence.

As most motorists know, penalty points on a driving licence usually means the driver ends up with a more expensive insurance premium, but extra powers granted to some London boroughs may see motorists charged under a driving offence that would make any motorhome insurance provider think twice before upping their premiums.

It is no secret that the City of London has been under pressure for many years from EU Commissioners with regard to its carbon emissions and lack of good air quality. It is also no secret that the City of London has viewed motorists as the villains of the peace in this respect, hence such measures as the LEZ where owners of vehicles such as motorhomes face crippling penalties for entering the streets of London unless they comply with the EURO IV standards for particulate matter. It cannot be denied that the Transport for London (TfL) have been proactive in researching methods by which motorists can cut their emissions and their latest initiative certainly proves that point.

A study by the TfL suggests that if drivers travelling through the centre of London cut off their engines for 1 minute in every journey whilst they are in traffic jams, CO2 emissions could be cut by as much as 100 million kg per year. The astounding statistics were seized upon by the Energy Savings Trust who was quick to support the policy and gave it good publicity. Strangely enough a little earlier this year, Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, launched an “anti-idling” campaign to ensure the capital meets PM10 particulate pollution limits. To give the campaign a level of credence some London boroughs were given the powers to impose fines of up to £80 if they deem that a motorist has left their car’s engine idling for an excessive amount of time.

Picture the scenario of a motorhome owner stuck in traffic near Trafalgar Square on a cold December night leaving his engine on to power the heating in the vehicle. Before he knows what’s happening a Community Particulate Enforcement Officer slaps a fine and maybe points on his licence for contravening a local by-law. Would that suggest to you that the driver was a bigger insurance risk than the person in the next car shivering to such a degree that his body was close to shutting down because of the freezing atmosphere, but who was keen to uphold the law?

It is understandable that our cities strive for a cleaner atmosphere but one wonders sometimes if the ends justify the means.

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