ST. GEORGE – Utahns statewide are gearing up for September’s Idle Free Awareness Month for a chance to breathe easier, save money, and clear the air. If each car in the United States were to reduce idling by 6 minutes per day, 3 billion gallons of fuel would be saved every year, amounting to $10 billion dollars in savings.
On Aug. 30, mayors throughout Southern Utah will be joining forces to declare September’s Idle Free Awareness Month. This campaign works to educate drivers about adopting these idle-free behaviors not just for the month of September, but hopefully they will be longer lasting driving practices that are incorporated into daily life.
A few simple steps are all it takes to reduce idling, improve health and our air quality. In fact, idling for more than 10 seconds actually uses more gas than turning the engine off and restarting it. The average driver idles for five to 10 minutes a day, contributing to elevated air pollution levels that aggravate respiratory illnesses and damage health.
The campaign especially focuses on educating drivers in school loading zones, as children are particularly susceptible to health problems associated with air pollution. Schools throughout Utah will be participating in the Idle Free Campaign by having volunteers hand out “Turn Your Key, Be Idle Free” decals and providing parents with information to raise awareness.
Utah Clean Cities has had substantial success with idle-reduction since 2008, especially through the training of Utah school bus drivers. On average, drivers decreased their idling times by 21 minutes/day, saving 92,000 gallons of diesel fuel consumption, amounting to a savings of nearly $300,000 for school districts per year.
One idling vehicle realistically isn’t the main culprit of air pollution, but thousands of them are. Small changes, awareness and individual actions, however, all add up to make a significant difference.
What can you do?
- Avoid idling in loading zones and when waiting to pick up kids at school.
- Limit engine warm up time to 30 seconds and don’t idle to keep air conditioner running.
- Avoid drive-thrus. Instead, park and walk inside to order.
- Spread the word to family and friends and start your own idle free campaign.
Utah Clean Cities is one of nearly 100 Coalitions sponsored by the Department of Energy’s Vehicle Technologies Program. The mission of the Coalitions is to reduce the use of imported oil, develop regional economic opportunities, and improve air quality. To find out more about the Clean Cities program go to www.cleancities.energy.gov. Learn more about the Utah Clean Cities Coalition and the Idle Free Campaign by visiting their websites.