TD introduces Bill to ban car ‘idling’ outside schools

Running engine can produce twice the emissions of a moving car, Whitmore says

Legislation to ban parents and guardians from “idling” their car engines outside schools has been introduced by Social Democrats TD Jennifer Whitmore.

Pointing out that an idling engine – one that is left running while the car does not move – can produce up to twice as much exhaust emissions as one moving a car, Ms Whitmore said the ban was just one of a suite of measures needed to ensure child safety outside schools.

She said it was not the intention of her legislation to penalise those parents who pull in to drop children off to school and allow the engine to idle momentarily, but, she said, some cars can be seen in school yards for up to 20 minutes waiting for school to open or for other families to arrive.

There was, she said, significant environmental and health dangers from such behaviour.


The Wicklow TD said a child is very often close to the level of a car’s exhaust pipe, placing them at special danger.

“Idling cars are bad for the environment, public health and people’s pockets,” she said, adding that many schools had already made attempts to ban idling.

“An idling engine can produce up to twice as many exhaust emissions as an engine in motion and international studies have found that idling for over ten seconds uses more fuel and produces more carbon dioxide than restarting your engine,” she said.

“This means that the air quality around schools can be especially poor, posing a threat to children, who are particularly susceptible to health risks caused by air pollution. For example, Ireland has the fourth highest prevalence of asthma worldwide and studies have shown that air pollution can cause asthma in young children.


“This legislation would give schools the added support of a garda or a warden who could issue on-the-spot fines to those who allow their cars to idle” she said.

“Banning car idling at schools is one way to make a simple and environmentally friendly decision that can have an immediate and positive impact on communities. It will not only benefit children, and the wider school community, but help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and tackle climate change”, she said.

Ms Whitmore said Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have previously said they would support a ban on car idling, and so she was hopeful of cross-party support so the Bill can be enacted quickly.

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien is an Irish Times journalist