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Is leaving your car running to defrost your windscreen illegal?

Everyone knows that leaving your car running on the drive in the morning is risky, but we’re all guilty of doing it. Who really wants to sit in a frozen car before you’ve even had your first brew of the day?

frosty windscreen

At this time of the year we always see warnings on social media about leaving your car running unattended, it’s practically inviting a thief into your car and it’s pretty common knowledge that your insurance company probably won’t pay out if your car is stolen.

Recently we’ve seen a new warning trending on social media; apparently it’s actually against the law to leave your car idling and that you can even be fined for doing so!

So, whilst there may be some truth to that statement, we thought we should clear things up and let our readers know the truth behind this latest piece of advice offered by many of the Facebook ‘experts’ out there.

Although you may not think it, an idling engine can actually produce twice as many emissions as a moving car. Pumping chemicals such as sulphur dioxide into the atmosphere obviously isn’t ideal, especially considering that engine fumes contribute to severe illnesses such as asthma, heart disease and even cancer.


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What many people don’t know is that the Government have actually introduced a law to prevent motorists from leaving their engines on unnecessarily.

If you leave your engine idling whilst on a road or in a public place, you can now be slapped with a £20 fine – rising to £80 in certain emission restrictive areas of London! The government are hoping that this new penalty will encourage drivers to turn off their engines instead of needlessly leaving them pumping out fumes.

We really don’t think you should worry too much though, as the fines are only being imposed if you refuse to turn your engine off when asked to do so. If you’re sitting in traffic, it’s perfectly fine to keep your engine running.

And thankfully, as the depths of winter approach, leaving your car running to defrost your windscreen is still perfectly legal despite what you may read on social media!

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