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Has Your Fleet Done Enough to Reduce Idling? A look at Utah’s Idle-free Program.

October 24, 2017

Utah has been combating its statewide air pollution problem resulting from copper mining, oil refining and other industries. However, exhaust from vehicles is an environmental concern and affects air quality in local neighborhoods.

As part of Idle-Free September, the mayor of Riverton issued a city council proclamation to slash the level of air pollution. It read, “By cutting back on idling, community members can join together to limit the negative environmental effects that idling creates, and thereby preserve the health and promote the prosperity of Riverton City.”

School buses show the way to reduce idling

The negative effects are seen near schools where parents keep their car running while waiting for their children. Both parents and kids get exposed to acetaldehyde and benzene which are well known toxins.

Since 2008, Utah school bus drivers decreased their idling times by 21 minutes per day, saving 92,000 gallons of diesel fuel and nearly $300,000.

Per Utah code, passenger vehicles are expected to reduce their idling by not running the engine for more than 15 seconds if the vehicle is stationary.

How fleet businesses can control vehicle idling

Speaking at a school to declare September “Idle Free Awareness Month”, Utah Associate Superintendent Todd Hauber said,“Our goal is to get more drivers in the habit of turning off their engines whenever they are idling for an extended amount of time. People need to be more aware of when they are idling their vehicles and turning off their engines when standing still for more than 10 seconds.”

Small wonder then that Utah prohibits the idling of fleet-vehicle engines. Specifically, if you drive a Utah fleet vehicle, you must turn off its engine when stopped for more than 30 consecutive seconds. In Mayor Applegarth’s words, “It doesn’t take very long to just turn the key and sit there until you’re ready to go and start the engine up again.”

How much fuel is consumed in idling? 

As per the EPA and other sources, it is 0.82 gallons for every hour of idling. The Dept. of Energy estimates that personal vehicle idling expends over 3 billion gallons of fuel across the U.S. annually. Restarting an engine actually uses up the same fuel as thirty seconds of idling, so that’s not a reason to leave the engine running and not turn it off.

When an engine is idling, it’s not operating at its optimal temperature. The fuel is, in fact, getting burnt only partially which leads to a buildup of residue that damages engine components. So idling is costly from the point of view of vehicle maintenance as well.

If your business runs a lot of vehicles, you want to find ways to stay friendly to the environment and to communities and this is the reason fleets adopt safe driving practices and reduce idling to a minimum. Businesses do this because they know that children exposed to elevated levels of pollutants like formaldehyde and benzene are at greater risk of developing asthma and respiratory problems.

What your business wants to have is vehicle monitoring that’ll reduce idling by as much as 50% on the road and 80% in the yard. 

Azuga Fleet brings you actionable idling information other systems don’t. A proven OBDII device from a major Detroit manufacturer, Azuga’s plug and play OBD “reads” your vehicle’s engine data up to 60 times more often than traditional GPS devices — giving you more accurate, reliable views of what’s really happening in the field. See https://www.azuga.com/go-green1/stop-wasting-fuel/

Alerts are sent both to dispatch and drivers when a truck exceeds predetermined speed limits, providing immediate feedback to encourage them to slow down. Drivers are more accountable and practice safer driving.

Utah also prohibits drivers of all vehicles from leaving their vehicles unattended without turning off the engine. Doing so can result in steep penalties of up to $750 and/or no more than 90 days of imprisonment.  For those who drive diesel-powered passenger vehicles, buses, and trucks, Utah suggests warming up your engine for no longer than what the manufacturer recommends (usually no more than 5 minutes).

Riverton City Council’s  proclamation says, “Be conscious of pollution, and help cut back on it in every way you can, particularly on idling.”

Besides reporting in real-time on fueling events, idling events, speeding start/end times, Azuga’s fleet and driver safety solutions monitor, measure, and prevent distracted driving and provide a full range of driver safety event alerts.

To learn how to use a fleet tracking solution to its fullest potential, which leads to additional gains in profitability as well as increased revenue, take a look at our Fleet Tracking ROI Guide here.

Finally, Azuga is working with State Departments of Environmental Air Quality to allow remote emission tests/smog checks to be performed using the plug and play OBD device. No more visits to smog check stations!. Oregon is already live with this program and several states are expected to follow over the next 2 years. We’ll keep you posted as we get more clarity with remote emission testing in your state.