Alert “06880” reader — and yearning-to-breathe-free Westporter — Peter Boyd chairs Sustainable Westport. He writes:
Sustainable Westport recognizes that families are making tough choices during the pandemic. Not the least is if and how to get your students to and from school.
Safety comes first. Bus capacity is reduced to enable safe distancing of students, and many parents and guardians opt to drive their children after encouragement from the schools to do so.
In these strange times when we all do our best for our families and community, Sustainable Westport has another suggestion for how drivers can help protect our children: When waiting in stopped traffic at pick-up and drop-off, please turn off your car whenever possible to reduce the impacts of idling engines.
Poor air quality affects the health of everyone — especially children, who breathe 50% more air per pound than adults.
If you need other reasons to switch off, a state regulation requires all vehicle engines be turned off after 3 minutes of idling (except in certain conditions, including air temperature below 20 degrees F).
In addition, you start saving fuel if you are not moving for more than 7 seconds (hence the auto cut-off on many of the newer vehicles). No one will ticket you if you don’t switch off, but hopefully you feel better when you do.
And you can keep the radio on while you wait. Modern, well-maintained car batteries can last for several hours while playing music.
During this difficult time, when so much is out of our control, let’s take initiative to control the air pollution we produce.
It is so nice to see how many students now walk or bike to and from school.
If feet or pedal power is not an option, consider an electric vehicle. (Westport has the greatest number of EVs per capita of any town in Connecticut – as celebrated at the recent EV car rally).
EVs are increasingly affordable. They provide impressive savings over the lifetime of the vehicle. They can idle without polluting the air, and be charged at home.
We understand that going electric may not be an option for everyone. We know that life is throwing many challenges at Westport families right now. So if driving your kids to school in a gas-powered car works best for you, please keep in mind that “young lungs are at work.” Let’s look after them!