Vehicle Idling Policy


The purpose of this policy is to eliminate unnecessary idling of all vehicles on University property. Vehicle idling wastes fuel, degrades air quality, and causes unnecessary emission of pollutants and greenhouse gases that are harmful to human health and enhance the natural greenhouse effect. This policy is in accordance with the University's Climate Action Plan and is supported by current research1 that shows:

  • Idling for more than 10 seconds uses more fuel and emits more CO2 than engine restarting.
  • Idling is not a recommended method for allowing modern vehicles to warm up. Driving, increasing speed gradually, is more efficient and safer for the vehicle.
  • In the U.S., idling wastes roughly 6 billion gallons of fuel annually - half from personal use vehicles - and generates roughly 30 million tons of CO2.


It is the policy of Washington and Lee University to continually improve the efficient use of vehicle fuels in an effort to reduce emissions, air pollution and operating costs and to this end all vehicles on university property are prohibited from idling unnecessarily. Operators of vehicles on campus shall adhere to the standards below. Also, operators of University owned or leased vehicles will adhere to these standards on and off campus:

  • Idling for more than 20 seconds is prohibited. This includes when warming up a vehicle.
  • Vehicles will not be left idling when the operator is away from the vehicle.


The following exceptions apply to the above policy:

  • Emergency response vehicles when responding to an emergency.
  • Vehicles that must remain a specific temperature for onboard materials.
  • Health or safety reasons (e.g., severe weather conditions, use of vehicle safety features).
  • Below 0°F for diesel vehicles.

Consequences for Noncompliance

On first offense, a warning will be issued. On second offense, a ticket with $25 fine will be issued. Individual vehicle operators will be responsible for tickets even while driving University owned vehicles. In these cases, department supervisors will receive a copy of the ticket.

1U.S. Department of Energy, "Idling Reduction for Personal Vehicles," and "Which Is Greener: Idle, or Stop and Restart? Comparing Fuel Use and Emissions for Short Passenger-Car Stops"

Revision History

This policy has not yet been revised.