How to Help Reduce Idling
• First and foremost, as a general rule, limit stationary warm-up and warmed-up idling to 30 seconds
• Vermont law restricts idling; if observing prolonged idling, consider reporting it to police (see more about idling laws
• Avoid drive thrus. Park it, shut it off and go into the place of business
• Avoid using a remote vehicle starter, which encourages unnecessary idling
• Avoid idling while using devices such as smart phones, and in wi-fi zones, while parked
• Consider the purchase or lease of a vehicle that does not idle such as a hybrid, plug-in hybrid or electric
• Consider the purchase and use of an engine block heater for non-garaged vehicles
• Inform school administrators if witnessing prolonged bus or car idling on school grounds, especially around school buildings
• If your supervisory union or school district has not adopted the model policy for vehicles other than school buses on school grounds, ask your
school board to adopt this policy
(allowing full function of electronics) that pay for themselves over time.
• Right Turn On Red is legal in Vermont (and all 50 states) unless otherwise posted; please avoid sitting and turn when able to
• Support roundabouts - they save gas by preventing idling, shorten trip time and studies show they reduce accidents
• Spread the word to family and friends
• Get published - use the compelling idling facts to write a letter to the editor or an op-ed
• Witnessing idling: If you witness extended idling of either company fleet vehicles, or tour buses at a ski resort or one of Vermont's many tourist attractions, consider contacting the entities that own the vehicles or that don't restrict idling in their parking areas. Contact Idle-Free VT if you do so. If you witness an individual who is idling excessively, you may want to politely inform them about the harm of idling. It is highly recommended that you only consider approaching someone in conjunction with an information handout. While some people may be defensive, most people will react in a reasonable manner.
IMPORTANT: when you approach a motorist that is idling when parked, again, be informed and polite. Consider circumstances such as where there may be a pet that needs to keep cool in a vehicle that is idling with air conditioning when it's hot, or if there's an elderly passenger that will need heat when it's cold. When you give a motorist an Idle-Free VT handout, you become an ambassador of Idle-Free VT.
• Idling complaint mechanisms: What can one do if any vehicle (car, truck, bus) is idling excessively? If a motorist refuses to comply with your concerns, there are laws in Vermont that limit idling:
1. state law on 23 V.S.A. § 1110. Prohibited idling of motor vehicles - prohibits idling while parked for more than five minutes in any 60-minute period, with exceptions
2. state law on 23 V.S.A. § 1111. Unattended motor vehicle - prohibits leaving your vehicle engine running while unattended in public
3. if observing an idling or traveling commercial vehicle spewing black diesel soot, they can be reported as they are in violation of Vermont's smoky truck law
For more details on laws, visit the Idling Laws page. Other avenues of complaint besides law enforcement authorities that may or may not resolve an egregious or ongoing issue would be to contact Vermont Dept. of Health, your local representatives, an energy committee coordinator, and Idle-Free VT.
A national idling awareness campaign? Contact the DOE and the EPA
The Department of Energy tells us that "researchers estimate that idling from heavy-duty and light-duty vehicles combined wastes about 6 billion gallons of fuel annually". We've got the national Click It or Ticket campaign, so why not a "Be Idle-Free - Turn Off the Key" campaign? Potential advocacy for national idling reduction education falls under two U.S. federal agencies: the DOE (Department of Energy) and the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). Under President Obama's administration, these agencies have been more engaged in environmental and energy issues including taking action on climate change, improving air quality and saving energy within the transportation sector. The DOE utilizes the Argonne National Laboratory for research and development of energy issues, including heavy-duty and light-duty vehicle idling. Argonne has performed vehicle idling studies and has published idling awareness information such as: To Idle or Not To Idle: That Is The Question and Ask a scientist: When is it more efficient to turn off my car instead of idling? The DOE does offer their IdleBox Toolkit for Idle-Reduction Projects, a comprehensive campaign resource of downloadable print products, templates, presentations and resource materials. The EPA is a source provider for idling reduction of school buses, through Clean School Bus USA and heavy-duty vehicle idling reduction strategies through the EPA SmartWay Partnership program. Contact both the DOE and the EPA and tell them you want them to run a comprehensive National Idling Reduction educational campaign similar to Click It or Ticket.
HEALTH TIP: Protect yourself from fumes: If you are behind a diesel truck, bus or school bus in traffic, or any vehicle in cold weather emitting puffs of white vapor (indicating not fully warmed up engine) these fumes are entering your car through your heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system fresh air inlet, or your side windows if they are open. Close windows completely, and get in the habit of choosing the RECIRC button or selection for recirculation mode. This blocks off the outside air and reduces the odor and exposure to fumes. Remember to return the system to outside air mode when fumes have abated. Also note that windows can tend to fog up when left in RECIRC mode.