WHAT IS IDLING?

Running an engine unnecessarily when a vehicle is stopped or parked.

People Idle their vehicles while:

  • Texting or talking on the phone
  • waiting for a companion to run errands
  • leaving pets in the car
  • chatting with a friend who is inside or outside their vehicle
  • waiting in line at a fast food, pharmacy, or bank
  • “warming up” and “cooling down” their car
Art by UHS Environmental Club 2023

The Problem:

  • Car Exhaust contains harmful chemicals (NOX, SOX, CO, CO2) and particulate matter (PM)
  • These pollutants affect our climate, environment, and health
  • 1.6% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions are associated with idling.
  • Idling produces more emissions per minute than driving
  • Idling with air conditioning on increases emissions by 13%
  • Idling vehicles consume 3 billion gallons of fuel/year in the U.S (30 million tons CO2)
sabelskaya/iStock/Getty (car); Malte Mueller/Getty (people)

Impacts on children:

  • Schools have elevated levels of benzene, formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, and other pollutants during school pick-up hours
  • Children are closer to the tailpipe of cars, increasing exposure
  • Children’s developing lungs have a smaller surface area and greater inhalation rate, causing increased exposure, and increasing the likelihood of permanent lung damage.
Created by Leila Achtoun, Ukiah High Class of 2017

OTHER IMPACTS OF IDLING:

  • An idling car is the least efficient car on the road (0 MPG)
  • Thirty seconds of idling can use more fuel than turning off the engine and restarting it
  • Driving cuts warm-up time in half, and reduces fuel consumption
  • Restarting a car many times has little impact on engine components. The wear on parts that restarting an engine causes adds about $7 a year to the cost of driving
  • Most people waste 1-2 entire tankfuls of gas every year by idling.

Action so far:

  • Educating local service organizations on the dangers of and ways to reduce idling.
  • Distributing literature and talking to drivers in idling vehicles.
  • speaking to local businesses about reducing or eliminating idling in front of their businesses.
  • Strategizing with organizations about introducing local ordinances banning or reducing idling.
  • Contacting corporate-owned drive-thrus regarding the problems created by lines of idling vehicles.

You Can:

  • Turn your engine off when parked
  • Roll down windows to cool down instead of idling to run the A.C.
  • Avoid drive-thrus: park the car and walk inside instead.
  • Avoid using a remote vehicle starter, which encourages unnecessary idling.
  • If you are able, consider purchasing a hybrid/electric vehicle, limiting idling at traffic stops.
  • Reach out to local officials about regulation of idling vehicles

IF YOU ARE A LOCAL BUSINESS, PLEASE LET US KNOW IF YOU WOULD LIKE ANY OF THESE SIGNS TO PLACE AROUND YOUR BUSINESSES (AT NO COST TO YOU) Our thanks to the following local businesses that have posted a sign to
create an Idle Free Zone:

  • Ukiah Natural Foods
  • Westside Renaissance Market
  • Express Mart
  • Mendocino Book Company
  • Honeyfluff
  • Whispering Winds Nursery

Please join them in this effort.

You can find free handouts to download at:

idlefreecalifornia.org

www.turnitoff.com

idlefreebayarea.org