Most people have heard that idling your car isn’t very good for air quality –TurnYourKeyBeIdleFreeLogo but did you know that if for only 15 minutes every day there are 10 cars idling at a time at each school in our district, this uses about 15 gallons of gas in a single day.

Over a month, this is environmentally equivalent to: 

  • driving 6,350 miles by an average passenger vehicle
  • the emissions from burning 2,865 lbs of coal
  • the carbon sequestered by 2.2 acres of forest over a year 
  • the carbon sequestered by more than 68 tree seedlings grown for 10 years

All of these numbers add up to us all having the potential every day to make a huge impact on our environment and our students’ exposure to air toxics emitted in the exhaust of idling vehicles! Here are some general guidelines to follow:

  • When waiting for students to be picked up, all engines should be shut off.
  • Always turn off your engine when you expect to be parked for more than 10 seconds.
  • If idling is necessary for temperature control, please restrict it to no more than 5 minutes.

In a previous post, I talked about the importance of reducing traffic congestion around our schools and how this can significantly improve traffic safety for the several hundred students who walk or roll to school everyday. Of course, reducing traffic congestion also helps to reduce idling! Walking or rolling to school, walking part of the way, or participating in a carpool are all options you can choose to be a part of the solution! 

Currently around 40-50% of students in our district regularly get to and from school in a single-family vehicle –  if you are interested in participating in a carpool and would like to connect with other interested parents from your school who live in your neighborhood, please contact me at .

Remember to turn your key and be idle free!


Sarah Schwartz

SCSD Safe Routes to School and Sustainability Coordinator


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