Schools Are Not Drive-Thrus!

Schools Are Not Drive-Thrus!

From Wayne Michaud

Help stop idling cars from spewing tailpipe toxins at schools! Idle-free schools campaigns at 15 California schools will make drivers aware of the harm and waste of idling to protect kids health and reduce CO2 emissions!

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Update #1

5 days ago

We're off and running toward reducing unnecessary vehicle idling at schools - to reduce CO2 emissions, keep some oil in the ground, and to PROTECT CHILDREN'S HEALTH!

More Info

I am Wayne Michaud, executive director of Green Driving America, a small, grassroots California-based 501c3 non-profit.

I have been passionate about transportation efficiency for 15 years - since starting the Idle-Free VT campaign in Vermont. An old school petition drive in 2006 gathered about 600 signatures on paper from Vermonters that helped in enactment of the state's school bus idling rule in 2008. The American Lung Association took an interest in my effort and awarded me as their Air Quality Champion in 2009. 

Then they hired me to coordinate a Vermont fleets idling awareness program that led to 15 business and municipal fleets adopting idle reduction policies that impacted more than 1,500 trucks. By 2013, we partnered with the ALA and others to compel the state legislature to enact Vermont's prohibited idling of [all] motor vehicles law.

Soon, my idle-free campaign became a 501c3 non-profit organization and implemented funded idle reduction and green driving educational projects with fleets and in the school community. Included were idle-free schools campaigns—at 12 schools in Vermont and two in California—that reduced idling by nearly 50% overall.

Schools Are Not Drive-Thrus! is our latest project that will implement idle-free schools campaigns for the 2021-22 school year. Why that name? The prolonged idling by lines of cars at schools prior to dismissal mimics cars waiting in a drive-thru at fast food and coffee outlets, or at a bank. So we are making a statement that this harmful and wasteful practice should not be occurring at schools where the negative impact of toxic tailpipe chemicals from a caravan of idling vehicles affects children whose lungs are still developing.

Project/Campaigns Overview

Visit the Schools Are Not Drive-Thrus! webpage for full project details.

Vehicle idling can be harmful, wasteful and largely unnecessary. At many of America's more than 130,000 public schools, collectively, prolonged idling by passenger vehicles occurs as parents drop off and pick up students every school day. The pick up period is when most of this idling occurs as vehicles queue up prior to dismissal for at least 15 minutes.

We will implement a total of 15 idle-free schools campaigns for the 2021-22 school year in Northern California: approximately ten in Bay Area counties and approximately five in Sacramento and San Joaquin counties (additional Northern California counties can be considered), with participating middle and elementary schools. The goal of the project is to reduce idling at these schools by up to 50 percent.


These campaigns will raise awareness throughout the school community of each participating school. Students, staff, administrators and motorists will learn the compelling benefits in avoiding or lessening idling on school grounds, simply by turning engines off:

• Save money in fuel use and maintenance costs

• Reduce CO2 emissions that contribute to climate change

• Reduce fossil fuel use and energy consumption

Most importantly: protect kids health:

The U.S. EPA Idle-Free Schools Toolkit for a Healthy School Environment states: "Idling vehicles contribute to air pollution and emit air toxins, which are pollutants known or suspected to cause cancer or other serious health effects. Monitoring at schools has shown elevated levels of benzene, formaldehyde, acetaldehyde and other air toxics during the afternoon hour coinciding with parents picking up their children. Children’s lungs are still developing, and when they are exposed to elevated levels of these pollutants, children have an increased risk of developing asthma, respiratory problems and other adverse health effects. Limiting a vehicle’s idling time can dramatically reduce these pollutants and children’s exposure to them."


These campaigns are offered in two levels of commitment: long-term efforts and short-term efforts.


Step 1: Training session conducted virtually (such as with Zoom) in classroom, by trained college level intern. PowerPoint and videos presentations on what idling means, its impact and how the campaign works. Includes organization provided campaign materials.

Step 2: Students and/or staff unobtrusively conduct three or four-days of initial data collection of idling vehicles during afternoon dismissal.

Step 3: School announces support for idle-free campaign in school community, including a notice in school newsletter and website, and optionally letter and pledge to parents. Install one to two provided idle-free zone signs in strategic areas.

Step 4: Students and/or staff conduct two-day driver contact event. Campaigners create idle-free posters to display at event. All drivers offered the information handouts and anti-idling window cling decals. Event publicized locally and in social media.

Step 5: Step 2 is repeated. The difference between before and after data collection is then calculated to determine a difference in amount of idling and effects of student/staff educational efforts.


SHORT-TERM EFFORT: THREE STEP CAMPAIGN: full educational value of long-term effort without measuring steps - spans six to eight weeks

Step 1: Initial training session, same as long-term effort, minus information on measured study.

Step 2: School fully carries out support for idle-free schools campaign as in Step 3 above.

Step 3: Driver contact event occurs as in Step 4 above.


• Students learn organizational, analytical and communication skills as they perform data analysis, are empowered by showing drivers the significant benefits in shutting off engines when parked, and take pride in making a positive difference in their school community

• Motorists, learning of the benefits, potentially apply them beyond schools

• Opportunity to sustain these efforts in proceeding years: we provide participating schools a written guideline to help sustain these efforts. Schools are strongly encouraged to remind the school community about the benefits in idle reduction several times each year, and to consider adopting anti-idling measures on school grounds


Green Driving America previously implemented projects have included Sacramento County Idle-Free Schools and Vermont Idle-Free SchoolsThese projects combined to reduce idling at participating schools by nearly 50 percent.


Green Driving America's basic guideline for our idle-free schools campaigns comes from the U.S. EPA Region 8 Idle-Free Schools Toolkit for a Healthy School Environment.

What Your Funds Will Be Used For

Your donations will enable the funding of a project that will implement 15 idle-free schools campaigns in the 2021-22 school year. Your donations will enable participating schools/educators to run these campaigns at no cost to them. For 15 campaigns, $15,000 is requested. That is $1,000 per campaign.

While this project is an absolute labor of love, it is time intensive with hundreds of hours associated with development and implementation time. Therefore, much of the funding requested will be for personnel compensation. Expenses incurred are also part of this request.

Specifics of what funds will be used for:

• $40 per presentation paid to trained college level interns

• Approximately $35 each for manufacturing thirty custom 18"x24" Idle Free Zone signs - plus shipping costs to schools

• Approximately $700 for printing of 750 "be idle free" window cling decals

• Miscellaneous project costs: CPA services, software subscriptions, crowdfunding fees, home office and associated utility costs

• Educator recruitment: build project webpage on the Green Driving America website to provide information for potentially interested educators; search listings of educators in California by compiling spreadsheet; sending dozens to hundreds of individual emails to educators and responding to those interested. Present Zoom overview(s) of the project to interested educators.

• Creating initial training session presentation: build an animated PowerPoint slide presentation; search for videos most effectively demonstrating the problems with idling and the benefits in avoiding it; create a teacher's campaign toolkit, handouts for students and staff to disseminate to drivers at schools, and written guidelines to school administrators for both supporting the campaign and sustaining it.

• Funding solicitations: get project word out in various forms to many hundreds of individuals and organizations such as via email and social media. To aid in this process: recruit volunteer social media marketing intern from among California universities. 

• Recruit and train paid college level interns to give initial training session presentations.

• Implementing the project: as project proceeds, build webpage that provides ongoing updates as school campaigns progress, coordinate with educators and interns to arrange presentations in classes (via Zoom). And Wayne will travel (by EV) to observe some of the driver contact events in-person.


Implementing 15 idle-free schools camaigns will maximize the project impact and the difference made. But our ability to implement it is not an "all or nothing" stipulation! We have the flexibility to implement the number of campaigns that the funding of the project allows, whether that would be five, 10, or more.

About Green Driving America

Green Driving America Inc. is a 501c3 non-profit organization* based in Sacramento County, California. Wayne Michaud is the founder and Executive Director of the organization. Green Driving America is served by six Board of Directors members.

*IRS determination letter; California Secretary of State certificate of amendment to articles of incorporation: name change to Green Driving America

Green Driving America is committed to helping drivers make transportation choices in their lives that will benefit the planet and themselves. To achieve this goal, we place emphasis on practicing green driving methods to improve driving behavior, making the choice to drive a vehicle that consumes less fuel or no fuel at all, for consideration of choosing alternatives to driving, and for reducing the harm and waste of unnecessary vehicle idling.

Please visit the Green Driving America website ABOUT page for more details on the organization's mission, background, and listing of board of directors.

My passion for being a transportation efficiency advocate and educator has led to being presented with two clean air champion awards: from the American Lung Association of Vermont in 2009 (pictured above) and from the East Bay Clean Cities Coalition in California in 2019 (pictured here). 

Thank you for your interest!

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Wayne Michaud posted a new update:
5 days ago

Update #1

We're off and running toward reducing unnecessary vehicle idling at schools - to reduce CO2 emissions, keep some oil in the ground, and to PROTECT CHILDREN'S HEALTH!

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