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Idling Engines Are the Devil’s Workshop

3/9/2009 5:51:27 PM

Tags: Environment, emissions, anti-idling ordinances, environmental laws, public health

Anti-idling brochure

In a move certain to irritate uncompromising libertarians, oil executives, and muscle-car enthusiasts, New York City has made it illegal to let your vehicle engine idle for more than a minute in a school zone. With the new ordinance, the city joins several other cities and states in going after idling engines as a pollution source and health hazard.

Minneapolis, the home of Utne Reader’s editorial offices, is among the enlightened cities with recently passed or amended anti-idling ordinances on the books. The city even has a printable mock ticket/informational brochure on its website that vigilant citizens can use to remind violators of the law.

How bad is idling, and how unnecessary is it? Let us count the ways:

It spews greenhouse gases. In Sierra magazine’s March-April issue, advice peddler Mr. Green fields a question about the global-warming impact of that American institution, the drive-through. Crunching the numbers, Mr. Green concludes that idling cars and trucks emit about 58 million tons of carbon dioxide each year, and U.S. fast-food drive-throughs cause customers to burn an extra 50 million gallons of gas annually. At Sustainablog, Robin Shreves notes that you don’t even have to give up drive-throughs to green up your act: Just shut off your engine when you’re in line at the bank or the burger joint.

It’s a health threat. As Minneapolis’ ticket/brochure points out, “Exhaust is hazardous to human health, especially children’s; studies have linked air pollution to increased rates of cancer, heart and lung disease, asthma and allergies.” If you have any doubts, go suck on a tailpipe. The Environmental Defense Fund notes that children, the elderly and those with asthma and other chronic health problems are especially vulnerable to the health dangers of exhaust.

Your car doesn’t need it. If you think you need to warm up your car before driving to avoid mechanical problems, think again. Slate’s own advice columnist, the Green Lantern, tackled several engine-idling myths last May and concluded that for modern fuel-injected engines, there’s simply no good mechanical reason to warm up a car for more than 30 seconds. (For those who see Car Talk’s Click and Clack as the final word on auto advice, they concur.) As a Minnesotan, I’ll add just one caveat to the discussion: When it’s really cold—and I’m talking near or below zero—make sure your defroster is warm enough to clear the windshield before traveling at highway speed, or the glass might cloud up.

You don’t need it. Now that you know your mechanical explanation doesn’t cut it, you might have to address a touchier subject: your personal comfort. In cold weather, I can attest that many Minnesotans like to get their automobile microclimate nice ’n’ toasty before climbing inside, so as not to shock their gentle derrieres. I have several neighbors who dash out to their cars 10, 20, even 30 (!) minutes before actually departing for work to warm up their vehicles. (One guy even turns his headlights on for extra measure.) I’m a daily, year-round bike commuter who avoids using my personal virtue as a cudgel, but I’ve got to tell you, people: Toughen up or find a less wasteful way to warm your bum, whether it’s long johns or a thermal cushion. That’s me out there on the street, huffing your unoccupied car’s exhaust cloud as I ride past. Know how I warm up my vehicle? I get on and start pedaling. Neighbors, your tickets are on their way!

Sources: City of MinneapolisSierraSustainablogEnvironmental Defense FundSlateCar Talk 



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Post a comment below.

 

James
7/3/2014 12:48:54 AM
Yes, idling engines are definitely the source of pollution as well as with the idling engines. Because of the vehicles idle condition, the engine is not going to stop working. It is in the running mode and results ignition of fuel in the vehicle and that results without any work done carbon dioxide gas gets out of the vehicle and pollutes the environment. We have to be a bit careful about this because, due to this carbon dioxide gas our environment gets polluted and if we stay a bit alert then we can save our environment. We can see sometimes the vehicle start producing more carbon dioxide gas and it is because of the problem inside the vehicle. We have to choose a finest repair center and have to do a complete check up of our car in regular time interval so that we can stay away. Tune up of vehicle is also a much needed fact. Branded vehicles like BMW, Mercedes, Audi, Mini Cooper and etc really need tune up. When I think my BMW needs to be tuned up, I prefer to visit and rely on the best repair center for my car to achieve the http://performingimports.com/bmw-performance-tuning/. If we do such servicing and updation in vehicle it is obvious that our vehicle will provide us a maximum performance.

Mike
6/16/2014 5:00:32 AM
I think we all know that when the engine is in ideal state with out any work done the engine runs. So, as the engine runs it is obvious that the fuel gets burned and produces carbon dioxide gas which is one of the biggest threat as far as environment pollution is concerned. Also one point also arise is that if the engine stays in ideal condition for a large amount of time it may wear down. So, the alternative we know that is vehicle breakdown at any point of time and it results crash or accident. To stay safe and avoid such issues it is better to take proper care of the engine and if possible service it from a good repair center. http://www.vfc-engineering.com/mini-cooper-repair/

Mathew
6/5/2014 8:08:46 AM
Now-a-days, the reason behind environment pollution is excess use of vehicles like cars, buses, trucks and many more. As mentioned here it is better to switch on or off the engine but, not put in ideal condition. Because in ideal condition without getting any work done our environment gets polluted because of the carbon dioxide gas that gets out as the engine is running. As the environment is getting polluted more so it can lead to various health disease like asthma, allergies and many more. To stay away from this, we have to use electric cars. As electric cars are environment friendly so this is one alternative that we have. Also, we have to take care of these electric cars else these may start showing problems. http://www.medwayimports.com/techtips.aspx

Arnaldo
5/23/2014 8:11:22 AM
There have been cases around the world that small kids get killed as they were left in the vehicle while the AC was still on for a long time and that caused excess of gases and ultimately there death. By idling the vehicle you are not only burning your fuel but also increasing the pollution level and other harmful gases which ultimately effect everyone around. This practice have to be discouraged. http://shoresautomotive.com/bmw-repair/

Jason
5/21/2014 5:20:18 AM
Idling of vehicle can totally harm the engine of the car. We should avoid idling, as it totally hampers the engine. Whenever we stop at traffic, it will be better to stop the engine as well, this will save the fuel and also will not create pollution. http://www.europeanstarmotors.com/bmw.php

Welly
5/10/2014 6:39:26 AM
The main cause of global warming is due to pollution. The pollution happens due to the smoke produced by the vehicles. And also when the vehicle is kept idle, it produces large amount of carbon dioxide which hampers the environment. It will be better if electric vehicles are used by everyone, this will not only reduce the pollution but will also save your money as it is run by the batteries. http://www.autocarebuzz.com/

Train Wreck
1/8/2011 10:46:35 AM
I don't like idling, I like the revving engine sound best. Idling is for people who don't like fast cars and trucks. I always wander about how the General Lee was ran in the snow? How they keep the snow and ice out without windows? What are people so worried about. Some pollution is good for you. You may say that I'm crazy but it does get your immune system working more. Then you can fight the chicken pox better. I would take the 69 Charger over the new piece of junk anyday of the week. All the do nothing senors is to produce jobs. The real General had none. I still belivie that John F. Kennedy was really shot over a project for cars and trucks to run on water. It would have created money problems for oil and gas investors. So the next time you hear a roaring engine, it may be me. I'm glad I have common sense.

JenniferNY
3/17/2009 1:57:16 PM
It is about time. Every state should have idling laws and also enforce them! I have been turning my car off at RR crossings for 30 years. In the morning I start my vehicle, check my mirrors, put it in gear and go.I always brush off snow before starting my vehicle. There should be a Greenhouse Gas Tax and a Air Pollution Tax and a Wasted Fuel Tax of at least 10% for each of these taxes on EVERY transaction at every drive through in the USA.

Denise_1
3/13/2009 1:48:11 AM
Idling your car has been illegal for ages here in Germany, we even cut our engines at railway crosses. Signs are posted to do so. As an American, living in Europe for many years, I m always distressed to see cars idling when I visit the US, sometimes in front of stores, even without drivers in them.

Bsab
3/11/2009 4:34:58 AM
Hello,We ran across your website and really liked it. Thank you for the good information. We'll come back often. Thanks Again, BsaB Candles






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