Chesterfield employees to save thousands by turning off vehicles

By Melissa Correa - bio | email
Posted by Phil Riggan – email

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - Chesterfield's latest penny-saving program is geared towards employees who drive county vehicles.  If they stop idling while in park, employees could save Chesterfield more than $500,000.

In September 2010 the General Services Department, which manages all Chesterfield County departments, started an anti-idling program. The county wants all employees who drive its vehicles to turn their cars off when in park.

It's an out-of-date myth still practiced today: leave your car on while in park.  You use less gas than turning it on and off.

Rob Key, Director of Chesterfield County General Services Department,  keeps all county departments in line. His mission is to break a bad and costly habit.

"These are long-held beliefs that we're trying to explode," Key said.  "So it will take a long time to reach everyone who might be used to leaving their engine idling."

Posters advertising the anti-idling campaign are taped up in county offices, and round decals placed inside vehicles remind drivers to turn the engine off when in park.

"Collectively small actions can make a big difference," he said.

There are about 3,500 county vehicles in service today.  Key said cars use a gallon of gas while sitting for an hour.

So we did some simple math to figure out how much Chesterfield would save if it cut back on idling. Today, the average for a gallon of gas is $2.99. If each vehicle saved one gallon of gas that's $10,000. And the county expects this program to pocket $600,000 in savings.

Cars are now purchased for a specific job.  In about seven months we'll know if the first year of the program paid off.

"We've been moving toward collectively acting as a county to be more environmental conscious, to be more environmentally friendly," explained Key.

The police department is also looking for ways to save on fuel. Officers are asked to maintain their tire pressure. Random checks are done and if the numbers are right an officer can win a gift card.

Police cruises and certain emergency response vehicles need to idle so the in-car computers function.  But if you see someone in a county car driving recklessly or spot suspicious activity you can call Chesterfield's driving hotline: 318-8800

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