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Idle Free Campaign

Make a REAL Difference

Just Turn it Off!

It’s for Our Air

Every time you idle your vehicle, pollutants enter the air that contribute to climate change, smog and acid rain.

It’s for Our Health

Deteriorating air quality and smog directly affects the health of vulnerable members of the community, including children, seniors and people with respiratory problems such as asthma.

This year alone, the Ontario Medical Association predicts 77 premature deaths, 210 hospital admissions and 736 emergency visits because of smog in Lanark, Leeds and Grenville Counties.

It’s to Save Money

Idling your vehicle for ten minutes a day uses an average of 100 litres of gas a year. If gas costs 80 cents a litre, you’d be wasting $80.

The Three Idling Myths

Myth Fact
Your engine should be warmed up before driving. Even in cold weather, the best way to warm up a vehicle’s engine is to drive away. With today’s modern engines, you need only 30 seconds of warm-up idling, assuming your windows are clear.
Idling is good for your engine. Excessive idling can actually damage your engine components, including cylinders, spark plugs and exhaust system.
Shutting off and restarting your engine uses more gas than if you let it idle. Ten seconds of idling uses more fuel than restarting your engine.

Ready to Do Your Part?

Here are five simple steps:

1. Reduce warm-up idling to no more than 30 seconds.

2. Turn your engine off if you’re stopped for more than 10 seconds, except in traffic.

3. Avoid using remote car starters.

4. Use a block heater to warm up the engine in temperatures below 0°C.

5. Talk to your family, friends, neighbours, colleagues and schools about the benefits of being idle-free.

Where you Can Make a Difference


Here are some places where you can reduce your idling time:

  • lock and railway crossings. (While most canal locks operate on demand, there is a schedule for peak times that will help you avoid waiting.)
  • fast food and bank drive-throughs
  • car wash lineups
  • convenience stores
  • lengthy stops in construction zones
  • school drop-offs and pick-ups
  • while waiting for family or friends
  • while stopped and talking to family or friends

 What has REAL Done?

During the pilot project undertaken during the summer of 2005, the Idle-Free Team spoke to 380 motorists stopped at the three lock crossings  Smiths Falls and Merrickville and had a display “under the water tower” at the Smiths Falls Chocolate and Railway Festival.

In 2006, 200 vehicles were approached during July at the  Detached Lock on Abbott Street. The campaign will continue into the fall of 2006, when the idle-free message, along with the  benefits of maintaining proper tire pressure, will be delivered to local schools.

In the spring of 2007, “No Idling” signs were posted at Old Sly’s  Rideau Canal lock crossing.

During the July 2007 Rideau 175 Heritage Festival  the Idle Free team spoke to 124 motorists at the Abbott Street Bridge. They found 84 vehicles were idling, but 56 turned off there engines when asked.

Another 80 vehicles were approached during the 2008 Chocolate and Railway Festival.

“Spare our Air” Idle Free signs were available for purchase from REAL. The metal signs were 12″ wide by 18″ high, black and red on a white background. They were free to schools in Lanark, Leeds and Grenville Counties, and $15 for others.  They sold out in August 2009.


For More Information

Natural Resources Canada Idle Free Zone is a great source of information on vehicle idling. Of particular interest are: