Drivers urged to ditch cars for short journeys

Organisers of the annual Clean Air Day are urging car drivers to find alternative modes of transport for short journeys in a bid to cut air pollution.

Behaviour change charity Global Action Plan, which organises the annual awareness raising day — this year taking place on 21 June — has suggested that more than half of car trips taken nationally are under five miles.

Car drivers have been urged to use alternative modes of transport for journeys under five miles

This is shorter still in urban areas such as inner London, where up to a third of car trips are just under two miles.

According to the charity’s analysis of data from the EQUA Index, double the amount of pollution is emitted from cars in the first five minutes of their journey, as testing has shown that it can take longer than this for pollution control systems to reach operating temperature.

As a result, the combination of the pollution burst that is being created as cars warm up in the first five minutes of journeys, together with the large proportion of  journeys being short, makes a ‘significant contribution’ to the UK’s air pollution challenge, the group claims.


Global Action Plan is urging drivers to find an alternative mode of transport, and to consider low emission alternatives to petrol diesel cars ahead of the second annual Clean Air Day on 21 June.

Larissa Lockwood, head of health at Global Action Plan, the organisers of Clean Air Day, said: “Taking collective action to tackle air pollution every day can make a massive difference, particularly if we cut down on using the car for these short, polluting journeys, many of which can be walked or cycled instead.

“Imagine if more people left the car at home every day, particularly for these short journeys. We could achieve similar levels of clean air on a daily basis as we did when the roads closed during the London Marathon which led a massive 89% drop in air pollution. We would suffer far fewer health problems from air pollution and we would also reduce levels of congestion and free up our streets, making them safer.

“Let’s take action together on Clean Air Day, 21 June, to make a real difference to the air we breathe. Clean Air Day has developed a range of advice, top tips, and information on the actions that everyone can take to protect themselves from pollution and reduce their impact.”

The charity has issued five key pieces of advice to drivers ahead of Clean Air Day, including:

  • Use your feet, take to the street and get active – Walk, cycle, bus, tube, tram, boat, however you like to travel, leave your car at home and take to the streets. As well as cutting down the amount of pollution you make, you’ll increase your daily exercise.
  • Drive in to the future – Cars may not fly or run on trash yet but when you upgrade your car, explore an electric, hybrid or LPG model (to save on your road tax too)
  • Give your car a holiday – There are some easy ways to use your car less; car-sharing or working from home if possible.  And they quickly become part of your routine.
  • Get out of your car — Car drivers can be exposed to twice as much air pollution as pedestrians and nine times more than a cyclist.  So, avoid sitting in your car in heavy traffic where pollution can build up and walk or cycle instead
  • Keep your car tyres inflated – Having well-inflated tyres means your car will be more efficient and use less fuel. Great for the environment and great for your pocket too.


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