Starting next year, most vehicles will be banned from idling for more than three minutes while parked at the side of a road, the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) said yesterday.
Drivers who violate the new regulation, aimed at reducing noise and air pollution from vehicles, including cars and motorcycles, will be fined between NT$1,500 and NT$60,000, Air Quality Protection and Noise Control Bureau Director-General Hsieh Yen-ju (謝燕儒) said.
The new regulation is part of an amendment to the Air Pollution Control Act (空氣污染防制法) that was passed by the legislature in April.
The EPA will sponsor public forums over the next three to six months to thrash out details before the measure takes effect, the agency said.
One detail that may be revised is a clause that would exempt motorists from the idling regulations when outdoor temperatures reach 30°C.
Hsieh acknowledged the clause has sparked criticism, with some wondering what was the point of having the law if it was not going to be enforced in hot weather.
He said it could be revised based on the outcome of the public hearings.
The regulation has other, less controversial, exemptions.
On-duty vehicles such as ambulances, vehicles transporting physically challenged people, TV station satellite news gathering vehicles and cranes, would not have to comply with the new rules.
Refrigerated vans and tour buses will be allowed to keep their engines running while parked for no longer than 30 minutes and 15 minutes respectively.
EPA statistics show that by the end of 2009, there were 21.17 million registered motor vehicles in the nation, including 14.6 million motorcycles and 6.77 million cars. Those numbers are rising at a rate of 1 to 3 percent annually.
Emissions from motor vehicles are the main source of air contaminants in urban areas, the EPA says, and have a severe impact on air quality and public health.
Additional reporting by staff writer