Renault has created a new ‘lollipop’ that’s able to monitor air pollution outside of schools in a bid to discourage drivers from leaving their engines idling.

The iconic symbol of school safety has been reinvented to show drivers the levels of pollution outside schools, with the lollipop featuring an in-built air sensor. It displays a score for air pollution in the area, either showing ‘Good’, ‘Okay’ or ‘Poor’, which are based on boundaries set by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

The legal air quality limit in the UK is 20 μg/m3 of particulate matter. However, when Renault tested the lollipop outside a school in Bedford at 8am, it provided reading of 25.3 μg/m3, exceeding the legal limit. According to the British Lung Foundation and Asthma UK, more than 8,500 schools and nurseries have ‘dangerously high’ levels of air pollution outside of them.

The lollipop forms part of a Renault campaign encouraging drivers to turn their engines off outside of schools when parked after its own research found that more than half of drivers leave their engines running when stopped in urban areas. More shockingly, 28 per cent said they leave their engines running when stopped for between six and 10 minutes.

Matt Shirley, senior manager of electrification and new mobility at Renault UK, said: “The lollipop has been the symbol of road safety for decades. Today, safety is not just about how to cross a road, it is also about how safe the air is that our children breathe going in and out of schools on a daily basis.

“The adoption of electric vehicles is a journey, but in the meantime, it’s important that we all do our bit and don’t leave our engines running unnecessarily.”

Renault is a well-known manufacturer of EVs, with its Zoe proving particularly popular thanks to its affordable price and range of 245 miles. The firm also offers various electric vans – including the Master and Kangoo. The Clio, Captur and Megane Sports Tourer will all shortly be available with hybrid powertrains, too.