Salt Lake City seeks to improve air quality by limiting vehicle idling

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 12 2011 5:00 p.m. MDT

Temperature is among several exemptions included in the proposed ordinance. The law would allow for motorists to idle vehicles so they can operate heaters and defrosters when the temperature is below 32 degrees or air conditioning when it's warmer than 90 degrees.

Concessions also would be made for emergency vehicles and on-duty police officers, among others.

Councilman JT Martin said he's been able to find an exemption in the ordinance for every concern people have expressed to him.

"If someone wants to idle their car, they can find a reason to in this ordinance," Martin said.

The proposed citywide idling restrictions stem from a 2008 executive order by Becker that prohibits idling of city vehicles for more than 10 seconds. A year earlier, then-Mayor Rocky Anderson put in place a five-minute idling limit for city vehicles.

A two-minute citywide limit would put Salt Lake City's idling restrictions among the lowest in the nation, joining Park City, Philadelphia and Minneapolis, city officials said.

In Connecticut, Delaware and New Jersey, idling is limited to three minutes statewide. New York City, St. Louis County, Mo., and Washington, D.C., also have three-minute idling restrictions.

Salt Lake City is part of Idle Free Utah, a collaboration of state, municipal and private organizations working to reduce vehicle idling time in Utah. The organization's website cites findings from studies about the costs of idling that say idling for 10 seconds uses the same amount of gas as restarting a vehicle.

The group also says increasing the number of times motorists turn on and off their car by between six and 10 per day does not increase operating costs.

E-mail: jpage@desnews.com

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