This no-idling sign from School District 83 is situated in the Bastion Elementary parking lot. (Lachlan Labere/Salmon Arm Observer)

Idling overrated: Shuswap drivers urged to drive cold vehicles after 30 seconds

City of Salmon Arm adds idling information, links to its website

No need to idle.

“The best way to warm up your vehicle is to drive it at a moderate speed after 30 seconds, even on the coldest of winter days.”

This information makes up part of the City of Salmon Arm’s information on idling vehicles, which is available on the city website.

Resident Anne Morris is pleased about the recent addition to the website, as it was prompted in part by her request to the city to provide information and signage regarding idling to drivers.

“It’s not colourful and eye-catching like information on the Kamloops website, but it’s a start,” she told the Observer in an email, adding she is looking forward to seeing ‘no idling’ signs at playgrounds and parks.

Coun. Sylvia Lindgren had supported Morris’ request in October, noting it is a well-recognized problem. The city also has a policy which includes idling.

Read more: Lack of ‘ride-thrus’ a missed opportunity as ‘cyclists run on calories,’ B.C. councillor says

Read more: Column – Rethinking the need for clean air

The city’s website points out that drivers save fuel by not idling because an efficient operating temperature is reached twice as fast as when the vehicle is stationary.

“However, for the first five to ten minutes, drive the car gently, with smooth braking and acceleration, to avoid putting unnecessary stress on the engine. Keep the RPM’s low and don’t slam on the brakes – this is enough to allow your car to warm up while in motion.”

The website also warns against staying inside an idling vehicle or leaving elderly people, children or pets inside them due to the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and high levels of toxic substances, which are 10 times higher than outside.

The city website links residents to Province of BC information on vehicle emissions, as well as information from Natural Resources Canada.

A 2013 U.S. study from Argonne National Library suggested “if each car in the United States idles just six minutes per day, about three billion gallons of fuel are wasted annually, costing drivers $10 billion or more.”

Read more: B.C. mom, kids on bike turned away from Tim Hortons drive-thru

Regarding emissions, Morris said she also would like to see air quality monitors installed along the Trans-Canada Highway through town so residents could see the level of emissions they’re breathing.

She checked with the Ministry of Transportation and found that, on average in 2016, 23,862 vehicles passed through Salmon Arm per day, with about 1,500 of them heavy trucks.

Vehicle exhaust is linked to many health problems, she says, including asthma, lung disease, negative effects on pregnancies and the incidence of dementia.

“A study of six million Ontario residents showed that living within 50 metres of a major roadway was associated with a seven to 11 per cent increase in the incidence of dementia,” Morris wrote.

Read more: 2015 – Offering extra help to law enforcement

Back to idling, the city website offers three main suggestions:

• Turn off your car;

• Don’t use a remote starter to warm your vehicle; warm up your car by driving it; and

• Instead of using a drive-through go inside the building, but if you must, turn off the vehicle while waiting.

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