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This winter, remember to limit idling in Summit County


Both Park City and Summit County have anti-idling ordinances, prohibiting a vehicle from idling for more than one minute. That includes running engines to warm up before driving and while parked between trips, but there are exceptions.

Summit County Sheriff’s Lieutenant Andrew Wright says the goal is safety and clean air. The point of the ordinance is to educate and encourage common-sense practices, but it’s enforceable with a citation after warnings.

“If you’re in a drive-thru, typically those drive-thrus are moving pretty quickly,” Wright said. “It doesn’t make sense to shut off your vehicle and turn it on every time you move a car length forward. And so, it’s using common sense. People think it’s okay to go into the grocery store and leave it running. That would be against the county ordinance, and that would be something that we would enforce.”

Other exceptions are for cars in slow or standstill traffic on roadways, emergency vehicles, safety equipment, and children and pets accompanied by an adult. The ordinance states drivers should keep in mind that 10 or more seconds of idling uses more fuel than restarting a car.

After three warnings, idlers can get a Class-II violation citation with a $50 fine.

Also, Wright says people can run their engines while they scrape snow and ice off their cars but shouldn’t leave them unattended. He says that can lead to car theft. In fact, multiple people’s cars have already been stolen this winter after they left them running outside their homes for mere minutes.

“Summit County has had kind of a mission and a goal long-term to reduce emissions in Summit County,” Wright said, “and I think this is a part of that, to reduce emissions that are put out by vehicles to slow down climate change. And, it does play into some health and safety factors.”

The county ordinance cites air pollution and climate change as reasons to decrease idling to promote clean air. It specifically mentions an affiliation with the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, a global network of over 2,500 local governments promoting environmental sustainability policies.

In addition, the ordinance says its goal is to decrease the risk of cancer and heart and lung diseases in the county, especially for children who are at greater risk.

The county ordinance applies to the Snyderville Basin, Jeremy Ranch, Pinebrook and all unincorporated areas of Summit County.

As part of a recent clean-air ordinance, Heber City drivers are encouraged not to idle. Exceptions in Heber are similar to those in Summit County, but also include anytime the temperature is below freezing.

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