Drivers urged to idle engines 10 seconds or less

You may have heard of the "five-second rule." Now the Cabarrus Sustainability Council wants everyone to sign onto the "10-second rule."

As part of its focus this year on improving air quality, the council is focusing on reducing car engine idling. The "10-second rule" says a driver should turn off his or her engine if they are going to be idling for more than 10 seconds.

Cars often idle longer than 10 seconds while standing in drive-through lanes for banks, fast-food restaurants and pharmacies. It also happens in car-rider lanes at schools, at school bus stops and at area businesses' loading zones.

According to experts, more than 10 seconds of idling uses more gasoline than turning off the engine and restarting it. That means using the 10-second rule not only helps our environment by reducing ozone pollution but also can save money.

Ozone pollution is linked to serious illnesses such as asthma, heart disease and cancer. While we cannot control some air quality factors, such as geography, climate and weather patterns, we have other ways to improve air quality.

The Cabarrus-Rowan County region has the 17th-worst ozone pollution in the United States, according to . Sheila Armstrong, air quality outreach coordinator at the Center for the Environment at Catawba College, helped the council research the air quality problem and develop a presentation to educate our community about the issue. The business writing class at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College created the presentation and conducted a campus survey.

"Education about the effects of idling made me stop and think," said Dakeita Vanderburg-Johnson, a member of the Sustainability Council. "I became aware of just how much we idle and how just one person can make a difference."

Vanderburg-Johnson and seven other sustainability council members are trained to deliver the presentation to groups or organizations about what everyone can do to improve air quality in Cabarrus County.

The sustainability council was established in spring 2009 as a joint effort among Cabarrus County, the cities of Concord and Kannapolis and the Cabarrus Regional Chamber of Commerce. Its mission is "to promote sustainability through public and private collaboration." Its goals are to bring awareness to the community, provide educational opportunities and accomplish community projects that improve quality of life and business opportunities.

In 2010 the council initiated recycling and recycling pickup in the Cabarrus County Schools and Kannaplis City Schools. This year the council is focusing on improving air quality.

To learn more about ways to improve our air quality, call Samantha Moose of the Cabarrus Economic Development Corp. at 704-260-8108 or email her at She can arrange a presentation for your group or organization, and she can give you free "No Idling" signs to post at your business, day-care center or school.