Published Thursday 24 March 2022 at 19:24
A Blackburn schoolboy is on a mission to tackle climate change – knocking on one car window at a time!
Muhammad Abdulrashid, aged 10, was determined to do something after overhearing a conversation about engine idling between his dad, community stalwart, Faz Patel MBE, and his local councillor, Phil Riley.
He was so shocked to hear about the devastating impact that idling can have on children’s health and the planet that he knew he had to do something.
Inspired to make a difference, Muhammad took it upon himself to start knocking on car windows outside his school asking the drivers there to turn off their engines.
It proved so successful that he’s been knocking on car windows everywhere he goes including outside supermarkets, places of worship and more.
Muhammad, who suffers from asthma himself, explained:
I knock on people’s car windows and politely ask them to turn off their engines.
When they leave their engines running when they’re stopped, not only are drivers harming the climate, they’re also impacting on air pollution and affecting people’s lives too.
When I knock on the windows, I ask them to turn off their engines because it’s really easy to do and can help make a really big difference.
The drivers are always welcoming when I speak to them and quickly turn their engines off. It’s a really nice feeling to help make a change.
The Royal College of Physicians estimates that 400,000 deaths a year in the UK are linked to air pollution, with engine idling contributing to this.
Engine idling is when a vehicle is left running while it’s stationary with more than a quarter of those caught doing it outside schools.
Idling is dangerous because it increases the amount of exhaust fumes in the air – in fact, research shows idling cars produce twice the emissions than a moving car.
These fumes contain a number of harmful gasses including carbon dioxide, which is bad for the environment and contributes towards climate change, as well as a range of other harmful gasses including nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons which are linked to asthma and other lung diseases.
Councillor Phil Riley, Executive Member for Growth and Development at Blackburn with Darwen Council, said:
Muhammad’s dad, Faz likes to keep me busy with work for the community where he lives in Blackburn.
It was on one of my many visits to his house that Muhammad happened to overhear a conversation we were having about engine idling.
Sadly, there’s a significant increase in the number of young people like Muhammad who have asthma and that’s been increasing for the last number of years.
One of the reasons they come into contact with polluted air is because of engine idling, particularly in the vicinity of schools.
A simple thing for people to do is to not to sit with their engines running when it doesn’t need to be – polluting the atmosphere.
It’s a really easy and simple step that can help save money, lives and our planet.
Idling is most common as part of everyday traffic, but there’s some instances – such as waiting for children outside schools and sitting in total gridlock – when idling is not necessary and should be avoided.
Under the Highway Code, idling is illegal and fixed penalty notices can be issued.
Councillor Riley added:
Muhammad is a fantastic young boy and wanted to do something to make a difference and one car window at a time he really is!
We’re all really proud of him and what he’s doing and we hope he’ll inspire others too – how fantastic would it be to have children at every school tackling engine idling.
As well as Muhammad educating drivers about engine idling, he’s also helping tackle climate change through litter picking and planting trees.
Blackburn with Darwen Council declared a Climate Emergency in 2019 and has committed to being carbon neutral by 2030.
As part of their focus to tackle engine idling, schools across the borough have been invited to take part in a competition to help design a new campaign.
The winners will receive a road safety-themed playground graphic or active trail sponsored by local company, UniPlay.