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Call for motorists to switch off to improve air quality

Pollution officers in Swansea Council are calling on motorists to turn off their car engines when waiting at busy junctions in the city.

engine idling

Engine idling in traffic queues is thought to contribute to air pollution and now the Council's Pollution Control Team is joining forces with Swansea University to look at the impact vehicles have on air quality.

To coincide with Clean Air Day (20 June) signs are being placed on the roadside at a busy location near the city centre and will ask motorists to switch off their engines while waiting in traffic queues.

The latest study will look to measure Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) and Particulate Matter (PM2.5) at the Fabian Way/Port Tennant Road junction whilst displaying behavioural change messages on roadside signs over several weeks. 

The aim of the study is to gather evidence to look at the theory that reducing engine idling reduces air pollution.

A similar exercise was recently carried out in Sketty on a pedestrian route used to walk to and from a local school.

During the three day period the exercise took place the number of vehicles with engines switched off rose from 5% to 14% in the morning and rose from 16% to 27.6%.

Tom Price, Swansea Council's Pollution Control Officer, said: "We carried out an initial pilot study to look at how motorists respond to some friendly roadside signage which tells them that switching off engines when stationary improves air quality.

"During the period the signs were up motorists responded fairly positively with an increased number of motorists switching off during the rush hour."

Dr. Menna Price, from Swansea University's Department of Psychology, is working with Swansea Council on the study.  She said:  "These promising pilot trial findings suggest that simple cost effective signage, designed to target the barriers to engine idling, can significantly change driver behaviour towards reducing air pollution. 

Our aim now is to publish these findings in a peer reviewed journal and continue this work by implementing signage on a larger scale in other residential exposure areas of Swansea." 

This new study will be carried out over a longer period of time and will collect a much larger dataset for the ongoing collaborative research that Swansea Council and Swansea University are undertaking

Mark Thomas, Cabinet Member for Environment and Infrastructure Management, said: "Vehicle related pollution is something we are keen to see reduced in the city. This latest initiative is part of much wider work we are doing to reduce carbon emissions in Swansea and improve air quality for residents.

"Hopefully, motorists will continue to react positively to the roadside messages and this can provide ourselves and the university with data that illustrates the impact engine idling has on air quality."

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