Turn your key, be idle free

It’s a habit we all have – leaving our cars running while they are sitting still, or idling. Although we might leave the engine on for just a few minutes a day, the pollutants and health problems add up. As such, Summit County passed the Idle Free Resolution for Motorized Vehicles and has declared this to be an idle-free county.

Click here to download the Idle Free Resolution for Motorized Vehicles in Summit County.

This new resolution asks residents, guests and visitors within the county limits to not exceed a three-minute idling time in their gasoline or diesel-powered vehicles. The following are exceptions to this resolution:

  1. If the vehicle forced to remain motionless on a public road due to traffic,
  2. If the vehicle is an emergency vehicle used in an emergency situation.
  3. If idling is necessary to produce auxiliary power for law enforcement equipment, refrigeration units, loading/unloading lift, well drilling and farming.
  4. If idling is necessary for inspection or repairs to the vehicle.
  5. If the health and safety of the passengers and driver requires the vehicle to idle, including instances where the temperature is below 32 degrees F or above 90 degrees F.

The hazards from this unnecessary habit are many. While sitting in an idling vehicle, drivers are exposed to higher levels of vehicle pollution than when the vehicle is in motion because exhaust enters the cabin. Studies have linked pollution from vehicles to increased rates of cancer, heart and lung disease and asthma. Asthma is the leading cause of hospitalizations for children under the age of 15.  Children, whose lungs are still developing, are at a higher risk because they breathe more rapidly and inhale more pollutants per pound of body weight than adults.   In addition to these health risks there are environmental and financial costs to idling vehicles.

We have all seen what vehicle emissions have done to the air quality of many Utah cities and winter driving presents its own set of challenges. In winter months, emissions from an idling vehicle are more than double the normal level.  However, there are things that we can do to make our air a little cleaner:

  •  #1: Turn off your engine if you are going to wait (except in traffic) and reduce warm-up idling. Modern vehicles with computer-controlled, fuel-injected engines needs no more than 30 seconds of idling on winter days before driving.  Driving is actually the best way to warm up your vehicle — it cuts warm-up times in half. Older cars should only warm for a couple of minutes. Anything more simply wastes fuel and increases emissions.
  • #2: Trip planning is particularly important in the winter — the fewer cold starts you make the better. Instead of several quick trips, combine all your errands into one run and select your route carefully. Chances are the engine will stay relatively warm while you are out of the vehicle, which will minimize fuel consumption and pollution levels when you restart it.

Let’s begin to clear the air in Summit County. By following these simple actions, we can provide better air for everyone.