UCAIR Blog

Why You Should Be Idle Free

You may be familiar with the classic saying from our friends at Utah Clean Cities, “Turn your key to be idle free.” UCAIR is an organization that focuses on what individuals can do to help clear the air. So, when you’re looking for a simple way to make a difference, it’s as easy as turning your key.

Being idle-free might seem too simple, or maybe it’s so simple you don’t think it will make a difference. According to the EPA, on average, every gallon of gasoline burned creates about 8,887 grams of CO2. CO2 is the gas that contributes to ozone. Your car also releases CH4 and N20 along with the CO2. Those particles get stuck in our air when we have inversion or ozone. This means the emissions your vehicle produces directly affect the air quality and ozone around you. Even though it’s a simple act, turning your car off can make a significant impact. 

The question on your mind might be, ‘why shouldn’t I idle?’ Well, that’s a good question. Combustion engines naturally produce particles that contribute to unhealthy air and ozone. So when a car is in park and still running, it’s unnecessarily contributing to poor air quality. In 2020, Utah had 2.3 million vehicles registered. Collectively, if every person who drove a vehicle in Utah were to stop idling, we could significantly impact our air quality. Though we are certainly concerned about air quality, we also know that the emissions produced by vehicles can directly impact health. Long-term exposure to pollution can harm your respiratory system. That includes your lungs, sinuses, and blood vessels that help you breathe. It can also cause damage to your skin. When you stop idling, you are helping the environment and your health.

It might be easy to overlook instances when you idle. After all, being in our cars for long periods is pretty standard in this day and age. As a general rule of thumb, if your vehicle will be running for more than 10 seconds without moving, turn it off. The best way to start the habit of turning your car off is to be aware of occasions that call for it. We’ve made a list of places where idling is common.

Keep these settings in mind as you drive so you can create an idle-free habit: 

    -Fast food drive-through

    -Grocery pick-up

    -Pick-up lines at school

    -Warming up your car


Making Utah idle-free benefits everyone. It will help our air quality and ease health issues, and possibly even prevent them. It’s a good way to save money on gas in the long run, and it’s an easy way to help a cause that has a direct impact on every individual in Utah. It’s one of our favorite ways to take action. It’s as easy as turning your key when you’re waiting in familiar places in your everyday life.