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Deputy Whitmore introduces Bill to ban car idling near schools during Clean Air Week

Social Democrats TD for Wicklow and Spokesperson for Children, Deputy Jennifer Whitmore has introduced her third Bill to the Dáil this week, this time seeking to ban car idling near schools. Deputy Whitmore introduced this piece of legislation during Clean Air Week to symbolise the need to protect children from localised air pollution cars by car traffic and reduce car emissions.

Speaking on the Bill, Deputy Whitmore says, “This is my third Bill I’m introducing in my capacity as TD for Wicklow and is a culmination in the work I’ve been doing as Spokesperson for Climate Action as well as for Children. In this Bill, the aim is to ban the unnecessary idling of cars within 100m of schools. This ban is supported by international and national research which finds that not only are car exhausts from idling more pollutant, children are the most vulnerable when breathing it in.  As most children get to school by car, there is a lot of car exhaust in the vicinity which is affecting children’s health and development in a real way.

“According to the Asthma Society of Ireland, young people are arguably more susceptible to air pollution than adults, due to their smaller size, developing physiology and closer proximity to fumes from cars. The Society also notes that one in five Irish children experience asthma at some stage in their lives and this is directly linked to poor air quality.

“Banning car idling will go some way to cleaning up the air around schools, while helping to reduce CO2 emissions. I know from speaking to a lot of parents in Wicklow that many believe there are simply too many cars during school traffic times. Not only is this increasing air pollution, its also dangerous from a road safety perspective. Part of the rationale behind this piece of legislation is to get parents thinking about real alternatives to driving their kids to school which help take more cars off the road.

“Legislation alone will not stop car idling near schools, it will take an educational campaign to help families to understand the rationale behind banning unnecessary idling and the wider things we need to think about including children’s health and safety but also the environment and climate change. Each of the government parties have in the past committed to introducing similar legislation, so today I am asking that they support my Bill going forward and the need to prioritise air quality as an issue. Schools are already engaging in their own ‘stop idling’ campaigns but leadership needs to come from government.