Sun, Jul 15, 2012 - Page 3 News List

EPA mulls relaxation of fines on idling motorists

Staff Writer, with CNA

A regulation imposing fines on drivers who allow their vehicles to idle for more than three minutes could be adjusted next month in response to complaints that the rule has made summer driving a nightmare, an Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) official said.

Hu Ming-hui (胡明輝), a section chief at the EPA’s Department of Air Quality and Noise Control, said the EPA is considering relaxing the policy to allow drivers to keep their engines running and vehicles air-conditioned when they are not driving.

“We are aware of public opinion and are prepared to make some changes,” Hu said, explaining that a “heat-related exemption” could be introduced next month at the earliest.

The exemption will possibly identify scenarios under which roadside inspections will be suspended, such as on days when a maximum temperature of more than 30oC is forecast, he said.

The concession came in the wake of the sweltering weather conditions that have hit the nation over the past week, with daily highs reaching 34oC to 37oC across the nation.

Under current regulations, the fines imposed for vehicles idling curbside for more than three minutes are NT$1,500 for motorcycles, NT$3,000 for cars and NT$5,000 for large vehicles.

The EPA estimated that if drivers could cut down their idling time by 30 minutes per day, about 640 liters of gasoline, 54.8kg of carbon monoxide and 1.4 tonnes of carbon dioxide would be saved per vehicle each year.

Meanwhile, according to the Central Weather Bureau yesterday, the hot weather that has blanketed the country recently is likely to continue throughout the week, with highs ranging from 33oC to 35oC nationwide.

However, the heat might be more bearable than that experienced over the past week, the bureau said, because the high pressure system over the Pacific that pushed the mercury to near record heights last week has since weakened.

Moisture from the south could bring showers in southern Taiwan, cooling temperatures, it added.

The temperature in Taipei last week reached 38.3oC on Tuesday. That was the highest temperature recorded this year, surpassing the high of 37.6oC seen on the previous day and was within 0.3 degrees of the hottest temperature ever recorded in the city.

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