Posted by: Francis Koster Published: May 21, 2011

Kids Speak out: air Pollution, Gasoline, Down by 70%…

 Driver Education Reduces Vehicle Idling Time by 70%,

Reduces Air Pollution, Saves Gasoline

by Jon Kennedy

Encouraging drivers to turn their engines off when parked conserves oil and gasoline, decreases smog levels, improves air quality, reduces greenhouse gas emissions and saves money. Idling vehicles represent wasted energy and unnecessary pollution. Changing the behavior of drivers is possible and valuable.

A community study and project in Canada has determined ways to reduce the number of idling vehicles by one third and the length of time those cars idle by 70%.

Several government and non-government organizations conducted a study to determine effective ways of encouraging motorists to turn off their engines when idling. The study looked at ways to reduce the frequency and duration of engines running in non-moving cars. The results of this project have led to further projects being initiated in two large Canadian cities.

The project concluded that if idling motorists were given an information card and windshield sticker, there was a 32% reduction in idling and 70% reduction in the duration of idling. The project found that 80% of those people asked to attach an adhesive reminder did so.

Staff participating in the effort spoke with drivers about the value of turning off engines, addressed misconceptions about resulting harm, provided an information card and a static-cling window sticker as a visual reminder to the driver and people outside the car.

These studies were conducted at “Kiss and Ride” sites and school zones in Toronto. Over 8000 vehicles were observed as part of the study.

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) launched this idling initiative in 2001. NRCan collaborated with Doug McKenzie-Mohr of Community-Based Social Marketing (CBSM) to develop a model to reduce unnecessary vehicle idling in Canadian communities. The resources were designed primarily for the use of municipal environmental coordinators and environmental non-for profit groups to help them deliver idling outreach initiatives at the local level. 

For a complete statement of the program and the lessons learned, visit this page <> on CBSM’s website.

When CBSM started the campaign in 2001 there were two or three communities in Canada that had stand-alone idling bylaws or delivered outreach campaigns. Today, there are over 200 communities across the country that have or plan to develop by-laws and even more that have conducted awareness programs.

The study was conducted and funded by the following organizations:

Canadian Climate Change Action Fund

Environment Canada

Toronto Atmospheric Fund

Toronto Public and Private Schools Boards

Toronto Transit Commission

several departments of the City of Toronto and other government and NGOs.

Additional information is available at the Government of Canada’s Idle Free Zone web site.


Additional contact information:

Dr. Doug McKenzie-Mohr (President McKenzie-Mohr Associates)


“News” report on Vancouver’s new anti-idling laws:


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