Canada launches anti-idling campaign at truck stops

| 10/23/2003

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) hopes to reduce idling by trucks and cars through awareness campaigns and an upcoming rebate program for anti-idling devices.

The agency launched “The Quiet Zone — Your Idle-Free Area!” campaign Oct. 16 in three locations – Bairdsville, New Brunswick; Cardinal, Ontario; and Kamloops, British Columbia. One goal of the campaign is to reduce the noise and air pollution that results from idling at truck stops and in surrounding neighborhoods. Drivers will be asked to turn off their engines when parked in “quiet zone” areas.

The campaign encourages, but does not force, drivers to turn off their engines while stopped, according to Bob Smith, senior manager of the agency’s Fleet Smart program. Truck stops who choose to participate in the program will display banners saying “Welcome to an Idle-Free Quiet Zone! Please turn it off.” Of course, the decision to turn off the engine is up to the driver. Smith says drivers will not be asked to leave.

“This is just an awareness campaign. We’re not that radical yet,” Smith said. “Not like in New York.”

At each table in participating truck stops, drivers will find placemats with energy-related quizzes, profiles of fleets with anti-idling programs and a survey card. After completing the survey, drivers drop it into a ballot box. Drivers’ names drawn from the survey ballot box will win prizes ranging from cab heaters to leather jackets.

This 10-week program aims to reduce engine idling, resulting in less fuel consumption and decreased emissions of greenhouse gas, which environmental experts say contribute to climate change.

Natural Resources Canada has set aside $138,000 for the campaign, which will run from Oct. 16 through Dec. 19, 2003, at about 50 truck stops across Canada. The first campaign, which took place between November and December 2002, had 18 participants, including 15 truck stops and three dealerships that made their parking lots idle-free zones.

During the campaign, which is managed by Natural Resources Canada’s Office of Energy Efficiency, organizers will promote devices designed to reduce unnecessary idling. These devices include auxiliary cab heaters and air conditioners, as well as engine timers. Informational material will be available for drivers and participating truck stops.

Trucks aren’t the only vehicles targeted by Canada’s anti-idling campaigns. In September, the Alberta Reduce Idling Campaign asked all motorists to turn off their engines when they are parked or stopped for more than 10 seconds, except in traffic. Examples included turning off their engines while picking up kids at school or waiting in a drive-through lane.

NRCan also plans to implement a rebate program for cab heaters and auxiliary power units. Although the detailed criteria are still being worked out, Smith says the program will offer rebates for cab heaters and APUs purchased by fleets and owner-operators registered in Canada. The rebate for cab heaters will be 19 percent of the retail price, with the rebate limited to $350. For APUs, the 19-percent rebate is limited to $1,400.

Like its neighbors to the south, Canada is looking toward new technologies, like truck-stop electrification and fuel cells, to solve their emission and energy usage woes. Smith says he’s even heard that IdleAire has been negotiating with some Canadian fleets to install the company’s anti-idling systems at fleet terminals.

Why all the anti-idling programs? It’s all part of the “Climate Change Plan for Canada,” which supports the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol, which sets out specific targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

--by René Tankersley, feature editor

  René Tankersley can be reached at