Governor Gary Herbert has issued a new executive order for state employees to turn off the ignition when they’re not driving.
The order requires more than 7,300 state vehicles to be turned off when drivers expect to be idling more than 30 seconds. Sam Lee, Director of the Utah Division of Fleet Operations, says the move will curb vehicle emissions, thus helping clear the valley’s notorious smog. And it’s good for the bottom line.
“This is a great policy, a great executive order for the state fleet. It’s going to help us reduce our fuel spend. it’s going to help us be more efficient. So it’s a great thing. It’s a win for the environment. It’s a win for taxpayers.”
Lee says the policy won’t likely burden state employees who spend their days on the road.
While it applies to all state vehicles, officials say they’ve taken some practical implications into account, including exemptions for public safety vehicles and the Department of Transportation for emergencies, or when employees are stuck in traffic.
Governor Gary Herbert says he this is an area where results can be seen, adding 30 seconds is a reasonable amount of time for drivers to comply.
“We just think 30 seconds is enough time to get in your automobile, adjust your seats, adjust your mirrors, make sure that you’ve got your seatbelt in place. That’s a good common sense number that gives you adequate time before you put it in drive.”
Herbert has asked each state agency to develop a policy consistent with the measure.
“We are going to have it monitored. We’ve got equipment that will be attached to the vehicle, which will be able to monitor and let us know what the amount of idling that’s taking place and so we’ll be able to measure the reduction in terms of pollutants as well as fuel.”
The governor says it will be monitored for 6 months before any penalties will be considered.
Salt Lake City was the first to initiate idle-free policies for the government vehicles in Utah. Art Raymond, spokesman for Mayor Ralph Becker, says the city has had a 10 second anti-idling rule for its fleet since the previous administration.
“Many other municipalities have done it. Salt Lake County has had one in place for years. And we think it’s high time and appropriate for the state to follow suit and do what they can to again have positive impacts on our local air quality issues.”
The state calculates up to 60,000 gallons of fuel per year could be saved through this executive order alone.