Vermont School Bus Idling Rule
In 2007, the Vermont legislature learned of the adverse impact diesel exhaust from idling school buses had on student health and air quality in school buildings, Vermont's environment, and taxpayer dollars. This grassroots campaign was led by Browns River Middle School (Jericho) students and their teacher Patty Brushett, along with the American Lung Association in Vermont, Idle-Free VT, and others. This compelled them to pass Act 48: an act related to the idling of school buses on school grounds. This became known as the Vermont school bus idling rule, which took effect in 2008.
How is the school bus idling rule enforced?
Statement from an AOE member: Like many regulations, there is no blatant and specified enforcement arm. However, the school board and the superintendent have the responsibility of seeing that laws are followed that pertain to the actions of their staff, particularly on school grounds. It is also of note that Title 23 is the jurisdiction of the Dept. of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Violation of 23 V.S.A. § 1282 is a traffic violation, 23 V.S.A. § 2302((a)(3). The penalty/fines are pursuant to 4 V.S.A. § 1102(d).
Statement from a DEC staff member: Because the rule is an Agency of Education regulation, it cannot be enforced as if it were a traffic violation. The Agency of Education can penalize the school district for failure to comply with its regulations, and ultimately can withhold education funding from the school district if the offense rises to that level.
There have been school bus idling rule compliance issues due to misinterpretation or willful ignorance of the rule mostly pertaining to supposed temperature exemptions. For details, view the Compliance Issues webpage, including complaint mechanisms.
Dedicated school bus driver
George Apgar is a bus driver for the Weybridge Elementary School, a school in the Addison Central Supervisory Union. George is retired from the Agency of Natural Resources - Air Quality and Climate Division. As a bus driver, he does everything possible to protect the health of school kids, the environment, and to conserve energy. Warming up a diesel school bus on a cold morning can be a challenge when it comes to having a cleared windshield, both from snow and ice accumulation and defrosting. George has rigged up a clever system for covering the windshield to prevent it from icing/frosting up overnight (click to enlarge photo). This allows him to keep his start-up idling time to a minimum. This demonstrates George's commitment to minimizing air pollution from unnecessary idling, and should serve as an example to other drivers to follow. Watch George Apgar and his secrets to going idle-free.
School bus idling resources
• The US EPA national campaign on school bus idling, Clean School Bus, has a comprehensive webpage on school buses and idling. As shown in the Idling Myths section, school buses rarely need to idle.
• The Air Quality & Climate Division of the Vermont Dept. of Environmental Conservation provides a factsheet on Vermont School Bus Emissions and Retrofits - all in the interest of cleaner diesel emissions.
• The Asthma Regional Council of New England has an excellent School Bus No Idling Policy
• Grassroots Environmental Education is a New York-based non-profit organization with a mission to educate the public about the links between common environmental exposures and human health, and to empower individuals to act as catalysts for change within their own communities.
Among their programs is The Childsafe School which deals with the health impact of chemicals used in cleaning schools, turf pesticides, and school bus diesel idling.
The program states, "Diesel exhaust contains many chemicals, some of which are known human carcinogens. In addition to exacerbating asthmatic symptoms it has been to shown to even cause asthma. The EPA says there is no safe level of exposure. “No-Idling” policies are a simple and effective solution.
Watch The Childsafe School: No Idling Zone video