Less Idling

TailpipeExhaustDiesel-powered vehicles — including most buses and trucks — emit thousands of tons of exhaust every year. A significant portion of that pollution could be eliminated if buses and trucks reduced their “idling time” — the time they sit still with their engines on, often in front of our schools and the sidewalks we walk down. Although, Chicago has an anti-idling ordinance, it has many flaws that prevent effective enforcement. Learn how you can help

The Problem

Diesel exhaust contains more than 40 toxic air contaminants, carcinogens and fine particulate matter that can lodge in lungs and cause asthma attacks, heart attacks, lung cancer and even premature death. The particles are so small — less than 1/30th the width of a single human hair — that they evade the body’s natural defenses, such as coughing and sneezing, and penetrate deep into the lungs and enter the bloodstream.

In Chicago, the asthma hospitalization rate is nearly double the national average. Public health studies show that diesel pollution causes, on average, 482 deaths, 585 heart attacks, 845 cases of acute bronchitis and 17,847 asthma attacks every year in metro Chicago.

Chicago’s Anti-Idling Ordinance

Chicago has an anti-idling ordinance (#9-80-095) that requires diesel vehicles to limit idling to 3 minutes per hour.  Any violations are supposed to be reported to 311, which dispatches non-emergency police to issue a warning or citation.  However, few citizens know about this standard, and it often goes unenforced.

What You Can Do: You can help ensure that the ordinance is better enforced by noticing and reporting idling violations — and bringing lack of enforcement to the attention of your elected officials. If Chicago’s City Council members hear from enough of their constituents, they will be more likely to update the standards to make them more enforceable. Remember:

  • Watch for idling diesel vehicles
  • Call 311 to report idling of more than 3 minutes
  • Contact your Alderman to let him/her know that you’ve seen and reported the idling violation — especially if you think the incident went unenforced
  • Use the social media buttons below to share this information with your friends, family, colleagues and networks!