Parents who leave their cars idling in school pick-up zones urged to switch off

Do you leave your car engine running when you do the afternoon school pick up?

In an effort to cut air pollution around schools, there is a call for parents to turn off their cars in pick-up zones in an attempt to improve air quality around the school and its students.

Peter Rayner, director of the Clean Air and Urban Landscapes Hub, is leading the campaign following a submission on the discussion paper which demonstrated the impact of adverse air quality on children.

“Firstly we looked at the overseas experience of it, and there’s a fair bit of action happening around the world to reduce the idling of cars,” he said.

“Secondly we looked at some new data on what happens to kids’ lungs, and they seem to be particularly sensitive to adverse air quality.”

Professor Rayner explained that those effects seemed to stay with the child long after the exposure.

“It appears that children suffer from long-term lung development effects from being exposed to adverse air quality.”

And he said he believed there was a fairly simple solution to improving air quality around schools.

“When you put those two things together and ask what can we easily control to improve the quality of life for those kids, it looked as if doing something about parents idling in their cars, and idling of cars and buses around schools in general, was a pretty easy thing to do.”

Professor Rayner said the idling of cars and buses was of particular concern given the proximity of the height of a young child and the exhaust.

“These kids are small, they are breathing at a level that’s pretty close to one of these exhausts.”

California’s anti-idling legislation

Professor Rayner said California was leading the way on this issue, having introduced anti-idling legislation and taking air quality into consideration when designing the layout of schools.

“They try and keep the bus stops from being too close to the schools, they try and make sure their buses are as modern as can be,” he said.


“They try and make sure that if they do have to have vehicles close to the school that there is some sort of protection for the kids.”

What can be done in Australia?

Professor Rayner said he was hesitant to follow California’s lead, insisting that “legislation should always be a last step for this kind of thing”.

Instead he believed the focus should be on educating parents.

“We need to educate the parent and say, ‘this isn’t helping your kids or helping your friends kids at the school’; why don’t we try and change our behaviour?

“And we just see what kind of improvement that it actually makes.”

Professor Rayner also offered this piece of advice to drivers.

“Remember in general, if your car is running for more that 10 seconds, it’s worth stopping it.”

This post originally appeared on ABC News.

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