This obscure law is in the headlines as it is now a new ‘environmental offence’ in Belgium.
From now on if drivers in Belgium leave their engine running when the car is parked up, they can be immediately fined a painful €130.
While this new law might sound a little draconian it has actually existed in France since 1963, when the order was introduced “relating to fumes produced by motor vehicles”.
The law required parked cars to have their engines turned off, “except in case of necessity, in particular during cold weather”.
We’ve all been there.
You're sitting in your parked car in a lay-by or a car park or just by the side of the road waiting to pick someone up and the car is too hot, too cold, you need air conditioning, you need to charge your phone, you are listening to music or you simply forget to switch it off…
But in France this is in fact punishable with a fixed fine of €135, which may be reduced to €90 or increased to €375, or even a daunting €750 depending on the case and how long it takes you to pay the fine.
And don't think it's just an old law that the police will never pick you up on because fines are being issued, according to Le Parisien newspaper.
They have even been increasing in recent years.
In 2014, 649 fines were imposed. By 2017, this figure had risen four-fold to 2,594.
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Motorists could be excused for believing that it uses more fuel to restart your engine (and therefore potentially cause more pollution) than keeping your engine idle.
But this has not been the case since the early 1990s. An idling engine consumes about 0.8 litres per hour. And it degrades the pollutants it emits less easily than at normal speed.
If you need another good reason to turn off the ignition when you're parked, it is actually better for your car.
It has been proven that running the engine when stopped damages several components such as cylinders, spark plugs and the exhaust system. It’s almost enough to encourage you to take the bus.