Idling Gets You Nowhere

Do you idle your car when waiting to pick up your kids? Do you leave the car running for a quick for a dash into the convenience store? Do you warm up your car on a cold morning? Do you realize that an idling car burns fuel but goes nowhere?

The US Department of Energy calculates that 145 million passenger vehicles idling for 5 minutes a day burns approximately four million gallons of gasoline. Multiply 4 million gallons times $4/gallon and you've got a number that's, well, just plain "fuelish." Idling your car is like burning money.

Vehicle idling does much more than strain our budgets. It threatens our health. Children, seniors, and those with respiratory problems are particularly susceptible to coughing and asthma attacks, bronchitis, lung and heart problems, and cancer.

Voluntary idling damages the environmental and contributes to climate change. The smog and acid rain caused by vehicle exhaust threatens animal habitats and lives. Plants are impacted because smog impedes a plant's ability to produce food. Unhealthy plants result in less abundant crops which impact our food supply.

The Hinkle Charitable Foundation reports "Americans may burn as much as 3.8 million gallons of gasoline from voluntary idling, which, in turn, results in producing about 40,000 tons of carbon dioxide. Annually, the cumulative effect is staggering, as we may be uselessly burning 1.4 billion gallons of gasoline and emitting 13 million tons of carbon dioxide as a result."

We can begin to chip away at these alarming statistics by taking a few easy steps:
  • Drive your vehicle to warm it up rather than idling the engine
  • Use remote starters wisely to avoid excessive warm-ups
  • Turn off your engine while you wait
  • Plan to be on time and avoid waiting in your car
  • Avoid "quick" errand idling
  • Take the bus or train
  • Ride a bike or walk
  • Educate others.