This summer, the Board of Selectmen adopted a town-wide no idling resolution, underscoring a Connecticut state law that prohibits unnecessary car and truck engine idling for more than three minutes at any given time.
A non-ticketable offense, the statute exists instead as a means of furthering awareness of the negative health and environmental effects associated with vehicular idling.
And so, in the spirit of awareness, Wilton Go Green (WGG) will kick off No-Idling Week Nov. 16, a town-wide initiative designed to educate residents and encourage them to commit to the selectmen’s resolution.
“Look for green and white no idling signs prominently posted around town,” said Lynn Stack, WGG Board of Directors.
The signs will instruct “drivers to turn off their engines, except while sitting in traffic or in extreme temperatures,” Stack said.
Students at each school in Wilton will participate in anti-idling activities throughout the week, taking part in educational programs covering idling and climate change, making awareness posters and patrolling school pick-up lines, reminding parents to turn off their car engines while waiting for their children and teens to be dismissed.
Poster-making sessions are planned at Miller-Driscoll and Middlebrook schools, a mini lesson on the effects of idling will be incorporated into a science class at Cider Mill School, and a no-idling video created by students will air on Middlebrook’s video channel.
Wilton police officers, during their distracted driving campaign Nov. 9-22 will be distributing idling informational cards to drivers they pull over.
Additionally, WGG and Wilton Library will co-host a screening of the documentary Idle Threat: Man on Emissions Nov. 17 from 7-8:30 p.m. at the library.
A panel discussion following the film will be led by Sustainable America Director of Programs Katrina Kazda. Other panelists include Wilton Public Schools Transportation Coordinator Mary Channing, Wilton Director of Health Barry Bogle, Walter Barozi with the Conn. Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Bureau of Air Management, and Wilton High School senior Alex Scaperotta, a WGG board member and “key initiator of the no-idling program,” Stack said.
“Those not familiar with the tremendous toll idling takes on our air quality may wonder what all the fuss is about,” Stack said.
“The emissions created by idling vehicles can have a direct effect on the health of adults and children who inhale the often-invisible exhaust. Increases in asthma, allergies, heart and lung disease, and cancer have all been linked to idling, and breathing exhaust fumes can damage brain cells and may contribute to autism.
“Idling harms the planet as well, spewing toxins, chemicals and carbon dioxide that contribute to haze, acid rain and global warming.”
According to Stack, idling engines emit 20 times more pollution into the air than those traveling at 30 miles-per-hour.
“Idling also hits our wallets,” she said, “and hard. Americans spend a whopping $13 million every day on 12 million gallons of fuel wasted idling.”
Apparently, not only is No-Idling Week unique in the state, it is one of the most significant anti-idling initiatives in the entire country.
“According to Sustainable America,” Stack said, “Wilton’s no-idling program is one of the broadest they have encountered, and the only one of its kind in the state of Connecticut.”
Sustainable America is a non-profit organization with the mission to make the nation’s food and fuel systems more efficient and resilient.
Residents can take the “No-Idling Pledge” by visiting iturnitoff.com/Wilton/#Public.
The Wilton School District, Riverbrook Regional YMCA, Wilton Library and other businesses and organizations in town have already pledged their support.
Wilton Go Green is a non-profit organization that promotes sustainable initiatives in the town of Wilton.