The Government's plea for motorists to stay off the roads to help cut air pollution in hot weather was largely ignored yesterday.
But the school holidays, traditionally a quiet time on the roads, helped ease fears about the effect of car exhausts on air quality.
On Tuesday, Robert Jones, the environment minister, urged drivers to leave their cars at home when air quality was poor. About 10 per cent of motorists stopped using their cars in July last year, the last time the Government made such an appeal.
But motoring organisations yesterday reported a normal day on the roads for the time of year. An AA Roadwatch spokeswoman said: "From the end of July to September it's always quiet. A lot of people have gone away on holiday and parents aren't having to do the school run."
An RAC spokesman added: "It just seems like any other day." Asked about Mr Jones's advice to stay off the road, the spokesman said: "I think people take these things with a pinch of salt."
The environmental group Friends of the Earth called on the Government to reduce motorway speed limits, close city car parks and some streets to cut pollution.
Roger Higman, a spokesman, said: "The Government must understand that people aren't just in a position to abandon cars. The Government has to improve public transport by laying on more trains."
The very hot weather will continue into the weekend, a London Weather Centre spokeswoman said. The hottest place yesterday was Bristol, which recorded temperatures of 33C (91F). There was no prospect of a significant amount of rain, although there had been a thunderstorm in Cardiff.
In Birmingham, health chiefs have backed down over their decision to charge office staff 10p for a cooling glass of water. Managers at Birmingham's Family Health Services Authority office changed their minds after a call to a local radio station.
The authority's general manager, Mike Waterland, said yesterday: "Staff can now have a cup of water if they want it. They can drink iced water free of charge - certainly throughout this hot spell - then we'll review the situation."
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