MOTOR VEHICLE IDLING ON SCHOOL GROUNDS
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), exposure to diesel exhaust can cause transient irritation and inflammatory symptoms and exacerbates existing allergies and asthma symptoms while long term exposure likely increases a lung cancer risk and damages the lung in other ways. While the number of missed school days for students with asthma has decreased from 2003 to 2013, asthma continues to be a significant cause of missed school days for American children with asthma, who make up over 8% of children in the United States.
No school buses or vehicles will idle vehicles unnecessarily on school property. School bus drivers will shut off bus engines immediately upon reaching school pick up areas and will refrain from idling while waiting for students to board buses. This rule extends to all bus use, including field trips and transportation to and from athletic events. In cases of cold weather, bus drivers will limit idling time during warm-up to 3-5 minutes in all but the coldest weather and shall follow manufacturer’s guidelines regarding idling if outside temperatures are below 20 º F. It shall be the expectation that parents and others visiting the school refrain from idling vehicles unnecessarily.
The Smithfield School Department will post a sign at each building indicating No Idling for both cars and busses.
All bus drivers will receive a copy of this No Idling policy or equivalent educational materials at the beginning of every school year and a reminder of this policy shall be included in back-to-school materials and handbooks for parents and students.
The construction or renovation of schools in Smithfield will incorporate measures to minimize children’s exposure to diesel emissions. All schools will design facilities to limit diesel exhaust inside the bus and in the school, including avoiding locating pick up and drop off areas adjacent to school air intake vents, and parking buses on the diagonal to prevent front-to-back passing of emissions.
The district shall require its bus transportation provider to utilize a variety of means to minimize emissions. These include but are not limited to:
- Installation of a heavy duty battery system, an extra battery and/or a change in the circuit configurations to power lights by battery without running the engine, if and when necessary for extended use of lights
- Consideration of the use of block heaters that plug into electrical outlets or inline auxiliary fuel fired heaters to reduce engine warm-up time and avoid starting difficulties.
- Maintenance of buses according to manufacturers’ specifications.
Exceptions to this policy are granted only when running the engine is necessary to operate required safety equipment or to maintain a safe environment for students with special health needs. In the event that Rhode Island’s General Assembly enacts a statute mandating school bus no idling provisions that differ from the provisions agreed to herein, the statutory and implementing regulatory requirements shall govern, from their effective date forward.
Legal Reference: RI General Law 31-16.1