No Idling, Please

MCDS students are taking the lead in a school-wide effort to reduce car idling during carpool. 

After the school installed several new “No-Idling” signs on Paradise Drive and in the main driveway, students on the Upper School Green Team set out to assess the progress of MCDS’s efforts to reduce car idling on campus. The students wanted to find out the average percentage of idling cars and determine if there was a correlation between idling and certain weather patterns. 

The Green Team collected data during afternoon carpool eight times between November-December 2017 and seven times from April-May 2018. Their findings showed an average of 37% of cars idling while waiting in the afternoon carpool line in the fall. That figure rose to  40% in the spring (see graphic). 

While their study did not show a correlation between outdoor temperature and number of idling vehicles, the results did prove to the students that there was a need for more community education about the unhealthy toxins and gases released into the air by idling cars.

With help from a few MCDS adults, including science teacher Liz Zavattero, the Green Team created a video to raise awareness about idling and to encourage parents to “turn your key and be idle-free.”  The Green Team will begin collecting carpool data again this December and in the coming spring.

You can watch the Green Team video below:

Three Common Idling Myths (courtesy of The Upper School Green Team):

Idling Myth No. 1: The engine should be warmed up before driving away. 

Contrary to popular belief, idling is not an effective way to warm up your vehicle, even in cold weather. The best way to do this is to actually drive away. As a rule of thumb, if you are going to be stopped for 10 seconds or more, except in traffic, turn your engine off. Even in the winter, today’s modern engines require no more than 30 seconds of warm-up time before driving away. Idling only warms the engine, not the rest of the moving parts of the car. 

Idling Myth No. 2: Idling is Good for Your Engine. 

An idling engine is an engine not operating at its operating temperature, which means that fuel combustion is incomplete. This leaves oily residues that can condense in the engine, where it can damage engine components. This will increase fuel consumption by 4%-5% over time. Excessive idling can also allow water to condense in the vehicle’s exhaust, which can lead to corrosion and reduce the life of the engine. Excessive idling can cause damage to both gasoline and diesel powered engines. 

Idling Myth No. 3: Shutting off and restarting your vehicle is hard on the engine and uses more fuel. 

Frequent restarting has little impact on engine components such as the battery and starter motor. As a rule of thumb, if you are going to be stopped for 1 minute or more, except in traffic, turn your engine off. 

MCDS is committed to greatly reducing, if not completely eliminating, idling cars on campus. We need your help! Please turn your key and be idle free, as much as possible. An idling car releases unhealthy toxins and gases into the air which are harmful to everyone -- especially children. This is a problem that every driver can help solve. If each Californian stopped idling for three minutes more a year that is like taking 350,000 cars off the roads! Every effort counts.