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Schools adopt car idling policy

Bus drivers do it. Now parents and guardians need to as well.

Selma City and Dallas County schools joined the “No Idling —Young Lungs at Work” campaign to reduce car and school bus emissions, an initiative for the upcoming school year.

The campaign is designed to lower the amount of exhaust children breathe, especially children suffering from asthma.

“The ultimate goal is to provide as much protection as we can for the children and also improve air quality at the same time,” said Scott Hughes, chief of the office of external affairs with the Alabama Department of Environmental Management.

Adult participation is as simple as turning a car off while waiting for a student.

“It’s not anything that’s going to cost them money.” Hughes said. “It’s basically a change in habit. Instead of leaving that car running, turn it off.”

Actually, it will save parents and the school systems money. Ten minutes of idling per day can use as much as $180 worth of gas each year.

Between creating a more suitable environment for children and the money that could be saved, the schools systems have nothing but benefits from this program.

“It’s not going to be an option,” said Finis Sanders, transportation supervisor for Dallas County Schools. “This is required.”

Dallas County operates 90 buses and Selma City operates 11 buses. By almost eliminating idling, Dallas County Schools could save more than $16,000 a year and Selma City Schools could save more than $1,900 a year.

“In these times when budgets are tight, it allows us not only to save money, but also because any time you can reduce how long the bus runs, you’re helping the environment,” said Ray Mathiews, coordinator of auxiliary services for Selma City Schools.

Bus drivers must shut off buses if expected idling time is more than three minutes.

This is a good time estimate for parents as well.

Children, especially those with asthma, will receive the most benefit from the initiative. It is estimated that children breathe, on average, 50 percent more air per pound of body weight than adults, and are shorter, thus closer to tailpipes where they can breathe in more emissions.