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"No-Idling" Policy

​The unnecessary idling of motor vehicles is a key contributor to poor air quality, the greatest environmental threat to public health globally according to the United Nations Environment Program. Compromised air quality accounts for an estimated 7 million premature deaths every year, and has been linked to respiratory illnesses, birth defects, heart problems, cancer, and other serious health conditions and illnesses.


Vehicle exhaust typically contains a toxic mixture of chemicals, including endocrine disruptors, neurotoxins, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and fine particulate matter which can lodge deep in the lungs. These toxins impact everyone, especially children, pregnant women, the elderly or those with compromised health.


As a result, "No-Idling" ordinances are popping up all over the country as states, cities and even local municipalities seek to improve air quality. Many are also adopting zero-tolerance idling policies for town-owned vehicles.

No Idling Sign in Burlington

A No-Idling sign in Burlington, VT

Here is a sample policy:

"No vehicle owned by or operated for the benefit of the town (village, city) of _____, other than an authorized emergency motor vehicle, shall be permitted to idle unless the engine is used to operate a loading, unloading or processing device, or when the ambient temperature is below freezing, or when federal, state or local agency regulations require the maintenance of a specific temperature for passenger comfort."

New York City offers a cash reward to citizens who report the unnecessary (and illegal) idling of motor vehicles, presumably paid for by revenues from enforcement. One man earned $125,000 from his reports.

The State of Vermont has adopted a strict policy on motor vehicle idling, thanks in large part to Wayne Michaud and his Idle-Free Vermont campaign, which has now become Idle-Free California


[1] Lewis, P., et al. (2012) Impact of Engine Idling on Fuel Use and CO2 Emissions of Nonroad Diesel Construction Equipment. Journal of Management in Engineering, 28(1), 31-38.

[2] Sarwar, H. S., et al. (2017). Engine Idling: A Major Cause of CO Emissions & Increased Fuel Cost. International Journal of Operations and Logistics Management, 6(2), 44-55

[3] Huang, L., et al. (2015). Effects of fuels, engine load and exhaust after-treatment on diesel engine SVOC emissions and development of SVOC profiles for receptor modeling. Atmospheric Environment, 102, 228-238.

[4] Beland, F. A., et al. (2012). Nitroarenes: Occurrence, metabolism, and biological impact. New York, NY: Springer Science & Business Media.

[5] Trasande, L., & Thurston, G. D. (2005). The role of air pollution in asthma and other pediatric morbidities. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 115(4), 689-699.

[6] Barkenbus, J. N. (2010). Eco-driving: An overlooked climate change initiative. Energy Policy, 38(2), 762-769. 

[7] Gonzalez, E., et al. (2009). Idling cars, buses damage environment, violate law (Rep.). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University, 1-3.

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