Drive-thru Banking | To curb smog, banks ask customers to cut engines

Zions Bank is asking its customers to turn the key on air pollution.

In a voluntary effort to help clean up Utah’s smog, all Zions locations are asking their customers to cut their engines when waiting in line at the drive-through.
Bank patrons who use the pneumatic tubes are greeted by large stickers reading, “Turn your key, be idle free. By turning your engine off when waiting, you will breathe easier and save gas.”
The statewide campaign originated in Salt Lake City, where the city was partnering with businesses “to identify ways to educate the public on ways to improve our air quality,” said Rob Brough, executive vice president for Zions Bank. “The drive-through seemed like the logical way.”
The effort to encourage less pollution among its customers is an acknowledgment that the Wasatch Front has a problem. Noting that more than half of Utah’s air pollution comes from vehicle exhaust, the Environmental Protection Agency encourages drivers to turn off their engines anytime a vehicle is going to idle longer than 30 seconds and is not in traffic.
“We recognize that where we are situated here, both in Utah County and in Salt Lake Valley, with the mountains that sort of surround us, it builds up and collects and the air quality is not where we would like it,” Brough said.
Only time will tell if the campaign has a measurable effect, he said. In the meantime, the campaign has garnered positive comments from customers.
“We are a community bank and we live in this community with our families as well, and we all benefit by having cleaner air,” he said.
Joe Thomas of the Utah Division of Air Quality said the program is such a good idea that he himself cuts his engine anytime he’s at any bank drive-through.
If a car is going to be running on idle for several minutes, cutting the engine is a simple and easy way to improve gas mileage, he said. There is a nationwide program to encourage school bus drivers to reduce idle time as well.
“Definitely when the car is idling, you just wasted energy,” Thomas said. “You aren’t doing anything.”
Cutting the engine in a bank drive-through is an especially good idea because in between filling out paperwork and having a conversation with the teller, the transaction could take several minutes, he said.
For information on state efforts to encourage drivers to reduce idle time when driving, visit

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