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December 9th, 2011:

Idling-engine ban to start next week

South China Morning Post – Dec. 09, 2011

Up to 280 traffic wardens and 400 inspectors from the Environmental Protection Department will enforce an idling-engine ban to be introduced by the government next week.

For the first month after the ban takes effect next Thursday enforcement officers will issue a warning instead of a penalty ticket, Environmental Protection Department assistant director Mok Wai-chuen said on Wednesday. If the warning is ignored, drivers will be prosecuted.

The amount of the fine will be HK$320.

The ban will cover all vehicles and roads except where the exemptions apply.

These include a three-minute concession for all drivers once every hour and when a very hot weather or rainstorm warning is in force.

Taxis on a stand and the first two minibuses on a stand will be exempt as will electric and hybrid vehicles.

“Law enforcement officers will first identify if a vehicle is in idling mode by hearing the engine sound, vibration or the checking the meters in the vehicles,” Mok explained. “If affirmative, the officer will start counting the three minutes.”

Mok said changing drivers or switching cars could not evade the idling engine ban, which is aimed at cutting air pollution.

He said officers should have little problem recognising the drivers and vehicles in question.

“If we find a car idling without a driver, we will wait until the driver comes back. If he or she doesn’t, police assistance will be sought,” he said.

Hong Kong Traffic Wardens’ Union Chairman Hung Cheung-yau said it was hard to predict whether there would be more disputes with drivers.

“It is like issuing parking tickets. Some disputes are inevitable. But we are used to it,” he said.

Hung said the traffic wardens’ role in enforcing the ban would be complementary.

“We will deliver our primary duties like traffic control before we have time for the ban,” he said.