Turn Your Key and Be Idle-Free for Back to School Season

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Now that cooler fall temperatures have made their way to the region, you may be faced with the temptation to idle your vehicle more than usual, particularly with the kids settled back in school and part of your day spent back in the carpool line. While it may seem impossible for drivers to avoid this altogether, vehicle idling by buses, students, parents, teachers, staff and delivery vehicles creates unnecessary pollution at schools. It’s especially important to remember to “turn the key” and “be idle-free” at schools because children are more susceptible to air pollution as their lungs are still developing, making them more vulnerable to the impacts of vehicle pollution than other populations.

Each year, idling engines produce thousands of tons of toxic pollution, including air toxins which are known to cause cancer, respiratory and reproductive effects, birth defects and various other health concerns. Exposure to car exhaust can also aggravate asthma symptoms. With asthma ranking as the most common chronic illness among children and the cause of most school absences, vehicle idling poses a serious threat to young lungs everywhere.

You might also be surprised to learn that:

  • Idling for longer than 10 seconds uses more fuel than restarting your engine.
  • Two minutes of idling uses that same amount of fuel as driving one mile.
  • Most people waste as much as 1-2 tanks of gas every year by idling.
  • Idling vehicles emit 20 times more pollution than a car traveling at 30 mph.
  • Every gallon of gas wasted produces over 20 pounds of air pollution.
  • Many buildings have fresh air intake systems to pull outdoor air into the indoor environment. If vehicles are idling alongside or near the building, indoor air can become polluted with exhaust.

In an effort to curb the amount of vehicle idling in the St. Louis metropolitan region, the Clean Air Partnership has created a campaign designed to help encourage area businesses, schools, governmental entities and other organizations to implement no-idling policies and post no-idling signs, demonstrating their commitment to helping our community be idle-free.

If you represent a business, government entity, school or other organization, consider engaging your constituents in making the pledge to “Turn Your Key and Be Idle-Free” by placing no-idling signs in your parking lots, near bus and carpool lanes, passenger drop-off lanes, delivery areas or any other location where idling is an issue. By working together, we can help eliminate unnecessary idling in the St. Louis area and help the region breathe easier!

To request a no-idling sign, contact Susannah Fuchs of the Clean Air Partnership at 314-449-9149, or via email at [email protected]. For more information on other anti-idling initiatives and additional steps you can take to help improve air quality, visit our website, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @gatewaycleanair.