Monday, June 29, 2009

Why All Drivers Should Avoid Idling...

Clean Air NY encourages alternatives to driving, promoting healthier air through biking, mass transit and reduced vehicle use. But — sometimes — even the best of us give in to the convenience of a car. When driving, alone or (we hope!) in a carpool or vanpool, you can lower your vehicle’s impact. One easy way is to reduce idling.

We idle anytime we leave the engine running while the car isn’t in use. Many New Yorkers idle based on misinformation regarding fuel consumption and engine wear. We’ve heard that stopping and restarting our car wastes more gas, harms the engine and prevents the car from warming up properly.

But these false assumptions often skim over the negative effects of idling. Our vehicles, our air and our wallets feel the costs on a regular basis:
- In addition to soot and smog-forming particles, idling vehicles produce about 130,000 tons of carbon dioxide each year.
- Fuel cannot combust completely in idling vehicles, so idling engines experience increased corrosion along with general wear-and-tear.
- An idling car or truck can waste between $62 and $529 of gas each year (based on current prices).

Most idling myths don’t hold up with today’s vehicles. Allowing your car to idle for more than 10 seconds actually wastes more fuel than restarting the engine. Idling in cold weather is unnecessary: Cars actually warm up more thoroughly when driven slowly and carefully for the first few minutes. Additional engine use and increased fuel consumption far outweigh the costs of wear-and-tear from restarts.

The good news: Reducing idling is simple and translates to real environmental, health and financial benefits for drivers. Most of us idle without a second thought—in the drive-through lane, at railroad crossings or while waiting to pick up a passenger. By cutting off such habits, you can save gas and improve New York’s air quality.

So stop and think next time you’ll be stopped for a bit. Shut off the engine. Step outside and breathe in the healthier air that you’re helping create.

Interested in learning more?
Idle-Free NYC:
Environmental Defense Fund: “Idling Gets You Nowhere”

For more information on other things you can do to improve NY’s air quality, please visit:

Guest Blogger: Sarah Tansey, Clean Air NY/CommuterLink summer intern.

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