City Council in Park City passed an anti-idling ordinance on December 16th, 2010. The ordinance prohibits the idling of vehicles within City limits for longer than three minutes, barring some exceptions (see exception list below). Park City is the first community in Utah to adopt an idling ordinance and joins a growing number of states and communities across the U.S. which have taken similar action to protect the environment and human health.
Impacts of Idling
Vehicle idling has numerous negative consequences including impacts on the environment, public health, and the inefficient use of fuel.
Air Quality: Emissions during idling contribute to the formation of ozone and particulate matter that are major sources of pollution in Utah. Idle Free Utah notes that health issues, ranging from asthma and bronchitis to cancer, have been found linked to vehicle emissions.
Dollars and Cents: There is a direct financial benefit to those who limit their vehicle idling time. Studies indicate a financial “break-even point” of 10-30 seconds of idling time for balancing the minimal wear-and-tear on engines versus fuel saved from shutting off the vehicle.
Natural Resources: Vehicle idling wastes an exorbitant amount of finite resources. The Department of Energy estimates that unnecessary vehicle idling in the U.S. burns up to 2 billion gallons of fuel per year! Compare this to the upper-bound estimate for oil spilled in the Exxon Valdez disaster: 31.5 million gallons. Furthermore, the Energy Information Administration estimates that the U.S. relied on net imports for 49% of our petroleum consumed in 2010.
Help us mitigate these negative impacts by being idle-free!
Ordinance Language and Exceptions
9-10-1 NO IDLING. No driver, while operating a vehicle within Park City corporate limits, shall cause or permit a vehicle’s engine to idle for more than three minutes, with exceptions for the following circumstances:
(A) The vehicle is forced to remain motionless on a roadway because of traffic conditions.
(B) The vehicle is an authorized emergency vehicle used in an emergency situation.
(C) Vehicle idling is necessary for auxiliary power for law enforcement equipment, fire, emergency and water equipment, refrigeration units, loading and unloading lifts, well drilling, farming, battery charging, or is required for proper functioning of other equipment that is part of the vehicle.
(D) Vehicle idling is necessary for repair or inspection of the vehicle.
(E) The health or safety of a driver or passenger, including service animals, requires the vehicle to idle, including instances where the temperature is below 32 degrees F or above 90 degrees F. This exception also includes idling needed to operate window defrosters and other equipment necessary to promote safe driving conditions.
(F) Vehicle idling is necessary for efficient operation of a turbo-charged heavy duty vehicle (e.g., buses) or to operate a vehicle within manufacturer’s operating requirements. This includes building air pressure in air brake systems, among other requirements.
Vehicle idling under these exceptions should not violate Utah State Code, 41-6a-1403, which prohibits the idling of an unattended vehicle.
9-10-2. IDLING ON PUBLIC AND PRIVATE PROPERTY. Section 9-10-1 may only be enforced when the idling vehicle is found on:
(A) Public property, or
(B) Private property that is open to the public unless the private property owner:
(I) Has a private business that has a drive-through service as a component of the private property owner’s business operation and posts a sign provided by or acceptable to Park City informing its customers and the public of Park City’s time limit of three minutes for idling vehicle engines; or
(II) Adopts an idle reduction education policy approved by Park City.
9-10-3. SAFETY OF LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS. Section 9-10-1 shall be enforced in such a manner as to provide for the utmost safety of the law enforcement officers or designees who enforce it.
After receiving three warning citations, violators shall pay a penalty in an amount set forth for general parking violations in the Fee Resolution.
A complete version of the anti-idling ordinance is accessible here: Title 9 - Parking Code.
Report a Vehicle Idling Violation
Individuals can use the idling complaint form to report vehicle idling which violates the anti-idling ordinance. Please only report vehicle idling which exceeds the three minute time limit and isn't covered by the above exceptions. This form will help us track idling infractions, inform individuals of our idling ordinance, and allow for more efficient enforcement by our Police and Parking Services departments.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Why do City buses leave their engines running at bus stops?
Answer: City buses have equipment, such as turbo-charged engines and air brake systems, which require longer idling times than most vehicles for efficient operation. Additionally, City buses need to idle in order to power onboard signage for bus routes, automatic doors, and heating/cooling systems which are critical for passenger safety and a positive public transit experience. Aside from idling, the Park City Transit department has completed a variety of route-planning and logistical improvements to save fuel and improve local air quality. In order to protect the environment, please take advantage of our excellent and FREE transit system: EPA reports that buses emit 68% less CO2 per passenger mile than riding in a personal vehicle.
Question: Why do Police vehicles need to idle?
Answer: Police Officers leave their vehicles running in order to power critical auxiliary equipment such as onboard computers, surveillance cameras, and emergency communications devices. We are currently investigating ways to reduce vehicle idling for Police cruisers, but these vehicles will continue to require idling for day-to-day safety operations and are covered by exception (C) in the idling ordinance above.
Please reach out to Environmental Sustainability staff via email at ParkCityGreen@ParkCity.org with any additional questions / comments.