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Salt Lake City asks drivers to reduce vehicle idling

July 10th, 2009 @ 10:05pm

By Sarah Dallof

SALT LAKE CITY — The City of Salt Lake is asking people to reduce air pollution by reducing vehicle idling times at places like the airport and drive-through businesses.

The request comes a week after a group of Utah doctors proposed an ordinance requiring drive-throughs be shut down on bad-air days. Though the city isn’t asking for drive-throughs to be shut down, they are asking that if you’re idling for more than 10 seconds, you turn your engine off.

"We’re trying to prevent air quality issues in the valley, and this is one way people can do it," explained Vicki Bennett, director of the Salt Lake City Office of Sustainability.

Bennett’s office launched the Idle Free Campaign last year. Now that the weather is heating up, it’s issuing a reminder: If you’re waiting to pick your kids up, at the airport, or in a drive-through; don’t do it with the engine running.

"I think it’s probably a good idea. I don’t know how practical it will be," driver Gerald Ducatte said.

Driver Joe Bindel told KSL News, "It would probably reduce smog in the city."

The Office of Sustainability cites a study by the California Energy Commission that, aside from the 10-second rule, finds that shutting and restarting an engine is not damaging to the vehicle.

"You’ll save money, you’ll save gas, and you’ll help prevent pollution," Bennett said.

But the Utah Restaurant Association is looking at another study, one by Canadian Environmental Engineering firm RWDI.

"What they’re suggesting, through this study, is that there are more emissions going into the air from turning off and starting again than sitting for a few minutes," said Melva Sine, president and CEO of the Utah Restaurant Association.

The association says 68 percent to 70 percent of fast food business comes from the drive-through and suggests people try alternatives like going at non-peak hours to avoid waits.

"Ten seconds is such a short time. I wait at red lights longer than 10 seconds," Sine said.

The Office of Sustainability is handing out window stickers advertising their campaign. You’ll also see similar signs at schools and the airport.


“Climate policy is characterized by the habituation of low expectations and a culture of failure. There is an urgent need to understand global warming and the tipping points for dangerous impacts that we have already crossed as a sustainability emergency that takes us beyond the politics of failure-inducing compromise. We are now in a race between climate tipping points and political tipping points.”
David Spratt, Philip Sutton, Climate Code Red, Australia, Published July, 2008

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