The following in taken from this week's Youth Voice column. It is written by Grace Spencer, a student at Stroud High School.

Recently, my dad questioned a bus driver who was waiting outside a school with his engine running - and promptly got told to mind his own business.

And although the issue seemed embarrassingly trivial to me at the time, it soon grew into one which I thought deserved much more attention.

Leaving an engine running unnecessarily whilst stationary is a habit for many of us, despite being technically illegal according to the Highway Code.

But idling for just 10 seconds wastes more fuel than restarting the engine, and for every 10 minutes an engine is off, one pound of carbon dioxide is prevented from being released into the atmosphere.

Other vehicle emissions such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and particulate matter contribute to worsening overall air quality, posing risks to the health of those nearby - children’s lungs are particularly vulnerable, as this organ is still developing up to the age of 18.

Exposure to exhaust fumes can stunt lung growth and contribute to respiratory disorders, including asthma.

Given these facts, it seems baffling that school bus drivers and parents continue to run their engines whilst waiting to pick up students. Their vehicle emissions are environmentally harmful, and, in the crowded streets around schools at pick-up time, children are sitting ducks in the collective smog. At a time of strikes by schoolchildren in support of environmental awareness, making changes close to home should be a priority.