Edmonton motorists spend 5K hours at drive-thrus

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Edmonton motorists spend 5K hours at drive-thrus

Amanda Dacyk from the University of Alberta speaks with Canada AM from CTV studios in Edmonton on Wednesday, May 30, 2007.

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(May 31, 2007) CTV.ca News Staff

A new study from the University of Alberta has found that in Edmonton alone, motorists spend 5,000 hours each day idling in fast-food drive-thrus while waiting for their orders — an action that is having a serious impact on the environment.

“We found that in Edmonton, drive-thrus contribute about 23.5 tonnes of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere every day,” Amanda Dacyk, the author of the study told CTV’s Canada AM on Wednesday.

The researchers, who are natural resource economists from the U of A, set up a station at a Tim Hortons drive-thru and monitored the type of vehicles, the number of vehicles, and the amount of time each spent idling in the drive-thru from the time it entered the line-up until it drove away from the final pickup window.

“Our study was conducted primarily in Edmonton,” Dacyk said.

“We did some measurements at one Tim Hortons and then we expanded our measures out to include restaurants from the whole city.”

Dacyk said researchers conducted the study because many Canadians use drive-thrus every day without considering the consequences of their actions.

“It’s just become kind of a part of our culture and we thought maybe we should look at the full spectrum of results from this activity,” Dacyk said.

Dacyk is quick to point out that the study is not scientific. Students timed vehicles at one Tim Hortons location, calculated the amount of greenhouse gas emissions generated, then came up with a figure based on the total number of Tim Hortons locations in the city.

However, she said it is not their intention to definitively prove the amount of emissions caused by drive-thrus, but to draw attention to the impact of one unnecessary act.

“Before any actions are taken, I think we need to have a lot more research to really get the true scope of this problem. This is a preliminary study,” Dacyk said.

“But as a society, if we decide that these are unnecessary emissions that we want to get rid of, there are several options, from education campaigns to incentives for people to use the counters instead of the drive-thrus, and at the far end of the spectrum, we could go into things like regulation of the drive-thru services.”

She said Tim Hortons was chosen for the study simply because it has a busy drive-thru.

Tim Hortons has said it is working to reduce the amount of time customers spend waiting in drive-thrus in order to curb emissions.

View the study here: edmonton-drive-thru-study

The University of Alberta in Edmonton is one of the top 100 teaching and research universities in the world serving some 37,000 students with more than 11,000 faculty and staff. Founded a century ago, the university has an annual budget in excess of $1 billion and attracts more than $480 million in external research funding. It offers close to 400 undergraduate, graduate and professional programs in 18 faculties.


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