As she sat in the school car park waiting to pick up her children, Emma Sutcliffe had a sudden revelation as she looked around at the mass of idling cars about her: just how much unnecessary vehicle pollution is being produced by people not switching off their cars when parked waiting for their children?
More importantly, why are we subjecting our children to it as they walk past this line of idling parked cars??
And so began the IDLE OFF Project. In conjunction with co-founders Clare Walter (University of Queensland PhD candidate on air pollution and health impacts), Nathan Gore-Brown (e-mobility consultant at Mov3ment) and Chris Nash (President of the Australian Electric Vehicle Association), the project has kicked off with a website and kit of teaching resources.
The kit is designed to help junior high school teachers educate their students about the dangers of particulate emissions, through looking at the impacts of the students own lifestyles. Side benefits also include saving parents some fuel costs – as well as perhaps gaining some well-earned pocket money for the students on the way.
The project has also gained endorsement from a number of respected organisations – including the Better New Zealand Trust, Australian Electric Vehicle Association, Doctors for the Environment Australia, Lung Foundation Australia, and the Climate Reality Project Australia & the Pacific.
So why the need? Well, in the words of the founders:
“Every school day, parents and bus drivers idle their vehicles in school car parks across Australia and New Zealand, releasing dangerous emissions into the places where students study, play and breathe. In some cities and towns, there are areas where the air pollution is so bad that experts have compared it to smoking cigarettes. So why has smoking around children been banned…but idling vehicles in schools is still OK?”
The materials are designed to meet four objectives:
- To communicate the danger of vehicle emissions to human health;
- To discover how much air pollution is around your school;
- To help students, teachers, parents and bus drivers understand the risks of idling vehicles to student health, and finally:
- To help school communities to IDLE OFF!
Start of one of the IDLE OFF project sheets. Image: IDLE OFF
For further information and to download the teaching and learning resource kit, see https://www.idleoff.com.au/
Bryce Gaton is an expert on electric vehicles and contributor for The Driven and Renew Economy. He has been working in the EV sector since 2008 and is currently working as EV electrical safety trainer/supervisor for the University of Melbourne. He also provides support for the EV Transition to business, government and the public through his EV Transition consultancy EVchoice.