Turn cars off while at schools

Published 7:01 pm Saturday, July 17, 2010

The aerobic health of our children is in our hands, or rather our keys.

The “No Idling —Young Lungs at Work” campaign aims to drastically lower the amount of emissions from exhaust pipes in school car pool lanes.

Bus drivers in Selma City and Dallas County schools must shut off buses if expected idling time is more than three minutes, a time estimate parents should use as well.

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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.

Asthmatic children may suffer increased difficulty in breathing from the close proximity to emissions, causing severe inflammation of the airways.

Not only will this initiative improve the health of children, but it has monetary value as well. Reducing car idling by 10 minutes each day for one year will save as much as $180 worth of gas each year.

For the school systems, this amount adds up faster.

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.

Participation in the campaign is a requirement for bus drivers, but only strongly suggested for parents. I think this is unacceptable.

As silly as it sounds, I believe that parents should be required to sign the pledge at the beginning of the school year and a parent volunteer should walk down the carpool lane asking parents to turn off their cars.

This initiative requires the participation of everyone to make an impact.

If only a few parents participate, the change in emissions won’t be enough to improve air quality.

So, please, for the sake of your child, and your wallet, just turn off your car while waiting.

Laura Fenton is the education and general assignment reporter for the Times-Journal. She can be reached at 410-1744 or laura.fenton@selmatimesjournal.com.