EEB Motor Vehicle Idling on School Grounds


File: EEB



Exhaust from idling school buses can accumulate in and around the bus and pose a health risk to children, drivers and the community at large. Exposure to exhaust can cause lung damage and respiratory problems. Exhaust also exacerbates asthma and existing allergies, and long-term exposure is thought to increase the risk of lung cancer. Idling buses also waste fuel and financial resources. The goal of the Massachusetts Anti-Idling law is to improve air quality by reducing unnecessary air pollution from idling vehicles. Massachusetts MGL, Chapter 90, 16A states that  “No person shall cause, suffer, allow, or permit the unnecessary operation of the engine of a motor vehicle while said vehicle is stopped for a foreseeable period of time in excess of five minutes.”.

This policy shall apply to all motor vehicles – school buses, vans, private vehicles and delivery vehicles on the grounds of Shutesbury Elementary School.

The term “school grounds” shall mean in, on or within 100 feet of the real property of the school whether or not it is in session, and shall include any athletic field or facility and any playground used for school purposes or functions which is owned by the municipality o r school district, regardless of proximity to school building, as well as any parking lot appurtenant to such school athletic field, facility or playground.

School Buses

All school bus and van drivers serving the district of Shutesbury will shut off bus engines immediately upon reaching their destination, and buses will not idle while waiting for passengers. The school bus/van should not be restarted until it is ready to depart and there is a clear path to exit the pick-up area. This rule applies to all bus/van use including daily route travel, field trips, and transportation for other extracurricular reasons that require a school bus/van. This applies to all vehicles whether owned or contracted with Shutesbury.

During winter months, drivers will limit idling time during early morning warm-up to time needed to perform pre-trip safety inspection. In colder weather, if the warmth of the bus is an issue, idling is to be at a very minimum and occur outside the school zone. The "warmed" bus is to enter the school zone as close to pick-up time as possible to maintain warmth and then shut down. Shutesbury Elementary School shall provide an indoor waiting space for drivers who need a place indoors to keep warm, thereby reducing the need for bus idling.

Delivery Vehicles

All service delivery vehicles shall turn off the engines while making deliveries to the school.

Private Vehicles

All privately owned vehicles should turn off their engines while waiting to drop-off or pickup students; in no situation shall idling be longer than 5 minutes. For activities requiring longer stays at the school, cars should be parked.

Diesel and Gas Powered Machines

All diesel and gas powered machines used on Shutesbury School grounds shall comply with this policy, whenever possible, although not required by state law. Idling of machines such as mowers and snow removal equipment should be kept to a minimum and a distance from students and school building.


There are times when idling is simply unavoidable; there three specific exemptions to this policy and to state law: when an engine is being repaired and operating the engine is necessary for the repair; when a vehicle is making deliveries and associated power is necessary; and when the engine is used to provide power to another device.


  • Vehicles engaged in the delivery or acceptance of goods, wares, or merchandise for which engine assisted power is necessary and substitute alternate means cannot be made available or,
  • Vehicles engaged in an operation for which the engine power is necessary for an associated power need other than movement and substitute alternate power means cannot be made available provided that such operation does not cause or contribute to a condition of air pollution.”



Shutesbury Elementary School shall post signs in and near the parking lot informing drivers of the “5 Minute Limit” on idling. A summary of this policy should be included in the Annual Family Handbook.

The Shutesbury School District shall erect and maintain in a conspicuous location on school grounds “NO IDLING” signage as described below. All such signage shall contain appropriate sized font so as to be visible from a distance of 50 feet.




M.G.L.C.90, § 16B AND 540 CMR 27.00

The Administration shall notify annually the company that provides bus transportation to the Shutesbury School District to ensure compliance with this policy and the law.

SOURCE:       Massachusetts MGL, Chapter 90, 16A, Mass. DEP;  U.S. EPA,


Revised 05-28-10

Second Reading, First Vote: 08/19/10

Final vote: 08/19/10

Reviewed by Shutesbury Policy Committee:  02-17-22