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No-Idle School and Parent Resources

The parent and school resources provide important information on how to implement a no-idle campaign into the school setting.

School and parent resources

School Checklist – Implementing the No-Idle Campaign

1. Get ready!

  • Educate yourself and others about the importance of idling reduction.  Review common myths about idling and what students can do. (Please see attached appendices for idling myth information).
  • Introduce the program to your school’s faculty and staff, and at the PTA meeting.
  • Identify a teacher(s) and/or parent(s) who is willing to become your school’s “Clean Air Captain”. This person will work in tandem with a co-coordinator from CoolMom.
  • If you would like to use this program to qualify as a Washington State or King County Green School, register with the appropriate organization.

2. Get Set!

  • Establish your data-collection team (DCT) to help collect data and educate your school community. CoolMom will supply at least one volunteer to work with the parents, staff, teachers and/or children who are part of the team. Consider involving children who have already helped with crossing guard duties or select one grade-level of students to be responsible for the data collection and analysis.
  • Schedule a baseline survey, to be completed by the DCT, of idling cars buses using the survey form and supplies provided by CoolMom.
  • Surveys should be taken over one week at pick-up and drop-off (15 minutes at either end)

3. Go!

  • Kick off your program week! Notify parents by including No-Idle materials in student handout packet (Please see attached appendices for newsletter and email templates).
    • Flier – Information about the idling campaign and idling myths
    • Pledge card - Signature card pledging parents’ support
  • Post “No-Idling” signage on campus, in the bus, carpool and delivery service zones
    • Signage will be supplied by CoolMom
    • School district and/or city will be responsible for hanging it depending on location. This will be determined at a site visit with your CoolMom coordinator prior to the campaign’s initiation.
  • Publish No-Idle program details on your school’s website.
  • Collect No-Idle pledge cards (parents and bus drivers, if possible) and post cards prominently in your school. Consider rewards (extra recess, special treats) for classes with 100% (or the highest %) of pledge cards returned.
  • Track idling behavior on school property using DCT and the same form used in the baseline data collection survey.
  • Have student-led “Prize Patrols” reward drivers who have their cars turned off.  CoolMom will supply prizes.
  • Incorporate No-Idling lesson plans into the students’ curriculum. (See attached appendices)

4. Cross the Finish Line!

  • Communicate the campaign's success through your school Web site or newsletter and at local conferences and events.
  • Let the community know about your success through a press release.
  • Recognize and reward teachers, students, drivers and administration who participated in the campaign through a Certificate of Appreciation.
  • Bonus: Deliver an idling reduction presentation at your school. Invite parents/guardians/ local organizations and local media. This could be held in conjunction with the recognition of teachers, students, drivers, and administration who participated in the program.
  • If you are participating in Washington or King County Green Schools, report the completion of your program to the appropriate person.

printable version of School Checklist

Data Collection- obtaining numbers of idling and duration

Implementation Timeline

1. Pre-campaign data collection (5 days, 30 min/day)

  • 15 min before school
  • 15 min a the end of the day

2. During the campaign data collection (5 days, 30 min/ day)

  • 15 min before school
  • 15 min at the end of the day


The Data Collection Team (DCT)

You will need a team of at least 4 people to collect data about your school’s idling habits and how those habits change during the campaign.  CoolMom will supply a volunteer to help coordinate your team. Ideally, you will have a parent or staff volunteer as well. We encourage you to involve the students, particularly 3-5 graders for whom there is a supporting curriculum.

Prior to your campaign, all members of your DCT will track idling habits on the forms provided.

During the campaign, at least 2 members of the DCT will track idling behavior and at least 2 members will become the Prize Patrol, which tracks and rewards non-idling behavior.

How to Collect Data on Idling Behavior – pre-campaign

1. Pick a week for performing your baseline count.

2. Pick volunteers for the DCT for the 15 minutes before school and the 15 minutes after school (or possibly 5 minutes before school lets out and 10 minutes after).

3. Designate a spot from which idling behavior will be monitored. Try to use the same spot each day.

4. Using the forms provided, make note of:

a. Type of vehicle (car, truck, SUV, bus)
b. If they are idling
c. Using stopwatches, time the length of time you see them idle
d. What they are doing while they are idling
e. Weather conditions (so we can see if hot or cold weather encourages more idling)

5. At the end of each day, please give all data forms to the CoolMom volunteer. Copies will be made and given to the teachers for in-classroom use.

How to Collect Data on Idling Behavior – during the campaign

For comparison purposes, make sure the monitoring takes place in the same locations, at the same time of day, and for the same number of observations as was done for the baseline count.

1. Pick a week for your campaign.
2. With 2 (or more) members of the DCT, proceed as above.
3. With 2 (or more) members of the DCT, establish a Prize Patrol to track the habits of non-idlers using the forms provided.
a. Type of vehicle (car, truck, SUV, bus)
b. What their motivation was for turning off their engine
c. Give them a prize for not-idling

Supplies to be provided by CoolMom

Forms (Idling and non-Idling), Clipboards, Pencils, Stopwatches, Sashes or vests, Masks, Prizes

printable version Data Collection

Data Collection Form

printable pdf Data Collection Form Morning Drop-off and Afternoon Pick-up

News Letter Article and Email Template

printable pdf No-Idling Program Newsletter Article and Email Template

Recommended Links for School Websites

Links you might choose to include on your website:

Fun video for families called “Wastebusters” that combats myths about idling. Done in the style of the “Mythbusters” television program.

Text about idling myths:

A children’s book about air quality and asthma. The main characters are chameleons.'s-orange-day.pdf

Asthma Information for Families and Schools in Washington State:

Idling Myths and Facts

Idling Facts for Schools and Families

1. An idling vehicle emits 20 times more pollution than one traveling 32 mph. By turning off your engine, you can reduce global warming, pollution and smog.

2. Air pollutants from your vehicle’s idling engine – ozone, sulfur dioxides, and particulate matter – are respiratory irritants. When inhaled, they can work together to increase asthma symptoms.

3. Vehicles left idling in traffic areas around schools cause surrounding buildings to have significantly higher pollution levels inside and out.

4. Children are more vulnerable to air pollution because they breathe 50 percent more air per pound of body weight than do adults.

5. A single car dropping of and picking up kids at a school can put 3 pounds of pollution into the air each month.

6. Vehicle exhaust contains carbon which mixes with oxygen in the air to form carbon dioxide, a major contributor to global warming.

7. Breathing car exhaust can increase asthma symptoms – especially in children. In 2008, an estimated 120,000 children in Washington suffered from asthma, making our state one of the highest rates of asthma in the country.

8. Asthma in children leads to lost school days for them, and lost work days for parents.

Idling Myths – Busted!

MYTH #1: In the winter, vehicles must be warmed up for a few minutes before they are driven.

FACT: Modern vehicle engines do not need to be warmed in the winter before they are driven. Ever since electronics were introduced to control engines, the need to warm up a vehicle before driving it has been eliminated. So now, sitting in your car in the winter waiting for it to warm up is a waste of time and gas, increases pollution, and does not protect your engine at all. To make matters worse, emissions from an idling vehicle in winter conditions are more than double the normal level immediately after a "cold start".

MYTH #2: It takes more gas to stop and restart an engine than it does to idle it.

FACT: Ten seconds of idling uses more fuel than turning off the engine and restarting it. So if you are stopping for more than 10 seconds – except in traffic, turn off the engine.

MYTH #3: Idling the engine for a few minutes warms up the vehicle.

FACT: Warming up the vehicle means more than warming the engine. The tires, transmission, wheel bearings and other moving parts also need to be warm for the vehicle to perform well. Most of these parts don't begin to warm up until you drive the vehicle away.  The catalytic converter – the device that cleans pollutants from the vehicle's exhaust – doesn't function at its peak until it reaches between 400°C and 800°C. The best way to warm the converter is to drive the vehicle.  Driving a vehicle cuts warm-up times in half. This reduces fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

MYTH #4: Restarting a vehicle is hard on the engine and starter.

FACT: Restarting a car many times has little impact on engine components such as the battery and the starter motor. The wear on parts that restarting the engine causes adds about $10 a year to the cost of driving – money that you'll likely recover several times over in fuel savings.

printable version Facts and Myth Busters

Following Up

We recommend that you periodically remind parents and caregivers about your school’s no-idling policy. For example, you might remind them after long school breaks, at the change of seasons, or if you notice idling happening near your campus. The following text is just a suggestion of what you might write, but feel free to copy it!

Just a reminder from the Green Team about drop offs and pick-ups. We know it’s chilly out there lately, but please remember to turn off your engine. Idling your engine causes pollution and actually wastes more gas than restarting your car. Children are particularly susceptible to harm from exhaust fumes. Check out this environmental website for more facts about idling and pollution.

Key Terms


1. Idle (idling) – using fuel to run a motor or machine while it is not in gear or moving **

2. Diesel – a type of fuel used in school bus engines that burns oil injected into hot compressed air*

3. Asthma – an illness that makes breathing difficult. May cause wheezing, coughing, and hospitalization.*

4. Exhaust – the escape of waste gases (fumes) from an engine*

5. Fumes – unpleasant smoke, gas or vapor*

6. Air pollution – contamination of air by the discharge of wastes or other harmful materials. Causes adverse effects on our environment and health.*

7. Particulate pollution – very small pieces of “soot” from diesel exhaust that is in the air we breathe into our lungs. Health effects include an increased risk in death from heart and lung disease, causing at least 70,000 deaths a year in the U.S. (Sierra Club brochure and EPA fact sheet, 2002)

8. Stewardship – taking responsibility and caring for the Earth or any part of it. Includes responsibility in using resources and creating as little waste and pollution as possible. (OEA glossary)

9. Fuel – needed for an engine to operate (humans need food as their ‘fuel’). (Sierra Club overview, 2003)

(* HBJ School Dictionary, 1985)

(**Beginner Dictionary, 1979)

Created by Darcy Smith, Curriculum intern and the North Star Student Group’s Curriculum Action Team

printable version Key Terms

Parent Pledge Card-Template

printable pdf Parent Pledge Card-Template Front and Back