Turn it Off: Anti-Idling Project Using Commitment, Prompts and Norms

This pilot project sought to decrease the frequency and duration of motorists idling their vehicle engines. The pilot project involved staff approaching motorists at Toronto schools and Toronto Transit Commission "Kiss and Ride" parking lots and speaking with them about the importance of turning off their vehicle engine when parked and sitting in their vehicle. Approached motorists were provided with an information card and signs reminding motorists to turn off their engines were posted at both the schools and the Kiss and Ride sites. As part of the conversation, the motorist was asked to make a commitment to turn off their vehicle engine when parked. To assist the motorist in remembering to turn off their engine they were asked to place a sticker on their front windshield. The sticker served both as a prompt to turn off their engine and facilitated the development of community norms with respect to engine idling (the sticker, which was static-cling and was transparent, was placed on the front windshield of the vehicle with the graphic and text viewable from outside of the vehicle). Since the sticker was transparent its message was also visible to the driver. Over 80% of the motorists who were asked to make a commitment to turn off their engine put the sticker on their front window. The information card, signs and sticker are available for review in the graphic database at this site. These graphics are also available free of charge for use in anti-idling campaigns. Contact Doug McKenzie-Mohr by email for further information.

This project had three separate conditions. Two Kiss and Ride sites and two schools served as controls and received none of the above materials. In a second condition, two Kiss and Ride sites and two schools received only the signs. Finally, in the third condition, the personal conversations, which involved providing an information card and the sticker described above were used in conjunction with signs. Note that the signs alone (which is what most municipalities are likely to use) were completely ineffective. Motorists in the sign only condition were no more likely to turn off their engines than were the controls. However, the combination of signs, stickers and information cards (third condition) dramatically affected idling. In this condition, there was a 32% reduction in idling and over a 70% reduction in the duration of idling. These results are based on over 8000 observations of vehicles in the various parking lots. With the support of Natural Resources Canada, this pilot project is now being implemented across two Canadian cities: Mississauga and Sudbury. Results of this project will be posted as soon as they become available. The executive summary from the pilot project is downloadable in pdf format by clicking on the Report/Materials link above. The materials that were used in this project are freely available for use by other organizations. For information on how to obtain these materials please contact Doug McKenzie-Mohr at the email address above. This pilot project was funded by the Canadian Climate Change Action Fund, Environment Canada, the Toronto Atmospheric Fund and was made possible by the support of a number of governmental and non-governmental agencies, including the Toronto Public and Private Schools Boards, the Toronto Transit Commission the several departments of the City of Toronto. For more information visit the Government of Canada's Idle Free Zone web site (the link is provided above). At this site you can learn how to deliver effective anti-idling programs and download all the materials that you need for such a program.
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