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Schools Move Forward with Idle Reduction

November 2, 2010 - 7:30am

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With schools back in session returns the inevitable procession of parents waiting for their children in parking lots. Unfortunately, many of these parents idle their vehicles, wasting fuel and producing both smog-forming and greenhouse gas emissions. As children are particularly susceptible to pollution, reducing these emissions can help improve air quality and students' health. Thankfully, various Clean Cities coalitions, supported by EERE's Vehicle Technologies Program, have stepped up to reduce idling at schools.

In San Antonio, Texas, the Alamo Area Clean Cities taught students themselves how to raise awareness. Dressed in green vests and equipped with "No Idling Zone" signs, Camelot Elementary School's Green Patrol reminds parents not to idle. To drive home the message, the school sent home a pledge card for parents to sign and a letter from the principal explaining how idling can endanger children's health. Watch the video.

Out West, San Francisco Clean Cities partnered with a number of regional groups to carry out a three month idle-reduction campaign at six local elementary schools. The outreach team distributed 422 flyers about the dangers of idling in three different languages. They also spoke to 208 drivers individually about how they could improve air quality and save money by not idling. To measure the results of their campaign, the team observed driver behavior before and after. Although they saw people idle for up to 10 minutes before, they observed a significant decrease after the campaign.

Similarly, the Idle-Free Utah campaign was the result of a partnership between Utah Clean Cities, city governments, county governments, and the state. Although the campaign has a broader focus than just schools, it has a number of outreach materials for parents and students. As a result, 84 different schools have committed to making their grounds idle-free zones. The campaign even features a jingle written and performed by an elementary school student!

If you would like your local school to become idle-free, check out these great resources and contact your nearest Clean Cities coordinator. Kids and their parents can make a difference when it comes to improving air quality and children's health.

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