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School Bus Program:
Be Idle Free

State Office of Education Teams with School Bus Drivers to Reduce Idle Times
Idle Reduction Program Helps Utah School Kids Breathe a Little Easier

In a landmark effort that has become a model for other states, the Utah State Office of Education, in partnership with the Utah Clean Cities Coalition, has developed a state school bus idle reduction program that has schoolchildren, their parents, and bus drivers cheering … and breathing deeply.

During the 2008-2009 school year, the idle reduction program removed 5,000 pounds of particulate matter that would have otherwise been emitted into Utah’s air. Almost 3,000 bus drivers in 40 school districts reduced their idle time by an average of 21 minutes per day.

Education and metrics have been key components of the program’s success. The idle reduction program is part of the official curriculum for school bus drivers. Tracking measures helped build confidence in the program and were instrumental in charting progress, emission reductions, and cost savings.

Bus drivers have jumped onboard and their enthusiastic participation has been critical to the success of the program. Drivers were able to show their young riders the benefits of turning off the engines when their busses weren’t moving. In turn, these children took these anti-idle lessons home to their parents. Soon, parents and drivers were integrating idle reduction behaviors into their personal driving habits.

What began as an effort to improve the air quality around schools grew into a community commitment to change.

“Each time we make a choice to turn off our engines, we make a choice for clean air,” says Herbert. “I applaud the State Office of Education and our school bus drivers for leading the way by showing us that small choices can make a huge difference.”