If you have ever driven by a school in the morning, you will likely have seen a congested traffic area in front of the school as drivers wait to pull up their cars to drop off their children. We know that vehicle engines emit pollution, including carbon monoxide which is a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. The highest exposure to air pollution occurs when sitting in traffic congestion on highways or in a line-up of idling vehicles at a transit stop or outside of a school.
While many drivers believe that turning off their engines for a short time is more harmful to their car than leaving the engine running, research has found that just ten seconds of idling uses more fuel than restarting your engine. You can reduce air pollution and care for the air we breathe by turning off your engine when your vehicle is parked. (Information from Green Communities Canada Active & Safe Routes to School)
- You'll save money
- You'll breathe easier
- You'll spare the air
What can your school do?
Interested in becoming an idle-free school? Schools can become idle-free and help to reduce the air pollution from idling vehicles in the vicinity of their school. The following are some things your school can do to begin the journey to cleaner air.
Idle-Free Stage 1:
- posters up in the hallway
- school newsletter insert
- informational flyer handout
Idle-Free Stage 2:
- traffic audit to count number of vehicles left running while parked before and after school
- information blitz to hand out informational flyers to drivers
Idle-Free Stage 3:
- Collect no-idling pledges from drivers
- traffic audit to compare results before and after campaign
Take it a STEP Further!
Not only can your school be idle-free, but you can also participate in active travel to and from school.
- Walk/Bike/Roll - If students live within walking/biking distance, encourage them to walk ,bike, skateboard or rollerblade. Adults will likely also enjoy the time spent walking with their children to school. If time is a restraint, consider encouraging students and their parents to participate in active travel for at least one way to school or home.
- Park & Stride - If it is absolutely necessary to have students dropped off at your school, suggest a parking area a block or two away from the school. Drivers can park and walk the remaining distance with their children. This step reduces traffic congestion in front of the school, making the area safer and the air cleaner. Plus, your students get to enjoy the benefits of being active.
St. Francis School Asks Drivers to Turn Off Their Engines
The students, staff and parents of St. Francis School celebrated Earth Day with the launch of their No Idling at School Campaign. The school Green Team created posters and banners and displayed them in the school and in the parking lot to remind drivers to turn off their engines while dropping off and picking up their students. An assembly was held to discuss the benefits of cleaner air and the importance of keeping our air clean and the new street signs that had been installed were unveiled in front of the whole school. Way to go St. Francis School! Thanks for helping to make our air cleaner, for everyone!