How often have you been bothered by the dark smoke that billows out of vehicles as they idle on the curb? Idling vehicles, which are basically running engines when not driving the vehicle reduce the vehicle’s fuel economy, create pollution and lead to higher risks of respiratory illnesses. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that eliminating personal vehicle idling would be equivalent to taking nearly 5 million vehicles off the road. With estimates revealing that idling wastes an estimated 6 billion gallons of fuel each year, it’s high time that the citizens and the government get together to control vehicle idling. By doing so, we will be able to improve our health and the environment and save fuel costs.
What does the damage include?
Idling is good for my engine, is this what you have been thinking always? False. Idling actually gums up your engine and makes it operate less efficiently. What’s the best thing to do for your vehicle? Driving is, as it moves fluids through the engines.
Emissions from vehicles lead to haze and smog, and are likely to damage cultural treasures such as monuments and historic structures. The fumes from these emissions contain harmful gases such as carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons that are linked to asthma and other respiratory conditions. It is believed that idling engines create up to 24 tons of sooty particles and over 130,000 tons of carbon dioxide. To offset the impact of this pollution, we would need to raise a forest that is equivalent to the size of Manhatttan. To top that, NYC drivers are wasting over $28 million every year in fuel that is burned during idling.
Impact of idling on health
There are a myriad of consequences caused by idling vehicles. Since half of the toxic pollutants in the air are caused by the number of fuel-chugging motor vehicles on the road, the air quality is a serious cause for concern. When your vehicle is idling, it emits as many harmful emissions just as a car on the go. Air pollution is directly linked to health conditions such as asthma attacks, lung disease, allergies and even cancer. It poses a greater risk for children as they inhale more air per pound of body weight and drivers tend to idle often around schools.
Anti-idling campaigns and initiatives
In order to garner public support for any idling campaign or initiative, it is important to dispel myths about idling. Read the list of myths that we are helping bust about idling in order to make NYC idle-free. It is important to let drivers know that in today’s vehicles, driving the vehicle helps the engine reach its ideal operating temperature rather than idling it. Caregivers waiting to pick up kids at school need to be informed about the means to minimize idling. Customers at drive throughs, especially restaurants and pharmacies should be encouraged to turn off their vehicles while waiting or park and go inside the store. There are several sources of information on designing an idling campaign or initiative that works for your community or school.
Our accomplishments through the years have been detailed here.
Excessive idling is against the law!
If money wasted on fuel costs and pollution that is directly linked to climate change and illnesses don’t provide enough reasons to avoid idling, you should know that some jurisdictions have laws against it. As per the NYC Administrative Code, Title 24, Section 24-163 - no person is allowed to allow his/her vehicle to idle for longer than three minutes while stopping, standing or parking. The only exceptions to this are: legally authorized emergency vehicles and any vehicle whose engine is being leveraged for loading or unloading. The permitted idling time is one minute around public and private school facilities. Failure to comply with these idling regulations might result in significant financial penalties, according to the Rules of the City of New York (RCNY) Title 15, Air Code Penalty Schedule.
Did you know that you can get paid to report idling vehicles in NYC? Read this detailed article on filing citizen complaints and the idling complaint system. Fines range from $350 for first-time offenders to $2,000 for repeat violators. Complainants who are able to file a successful first-time fine could be rewarded up to $87.50.
Legendary rocker, Billy Idle, known for 80s hits such as "Mony Mony'' and "Rebel Yell'' has been enlisted by NYC to launch a public awareness Anti-Idling campaign for New York City. In the latest push to curb the air pollution that is produced by the vehicles in the five boroughs of the city, Mayor Bill de Blasio kicked off the "War on Idling" campaign with the tagline "Billy Never Idles, Neither Should You" earlier this year. The rocker is set to feature in advertisements promoting the law, a part of a broader effort by the city to improve air quality. This campaign is a great effort towards cutting down the harmful exhaust that is polluting the air from idling vehicles in the city. As the mayor rightly put it, "We're sending a loud message with a Rebel Yell: Turn off your engines or pay up." The rocker played his part in this campaign, urging hardworking and passionate New Yorkers to join him in turning off their engines. The campaign also encourages New Yorkers to report on motorists who are caught idling their vehicles. Residents who report idlers will get paid a portion of the fine.
Idle-free NYC - Nurturing this hope since 1972
Did you know that idling has been prohibited in NYC since 1972? With the longest ongoing air quality monitoring program of any US city, the city has made great strides in identifying which neighborhoods have the highest pollutant levels and where changes can be made in order to improve air quality. In 2017 the city passed a law that allowed citizens to submit any photographic or video evidence that caught drivers idling to the Department of Environmental Protection. In the event that a ticket was issued to the driver, the citizen who submitted the evidence would get 25 percent of the fine. The overall air quality in NYC has improved dramatically in the last decade and this is attributed to the regulations that have phased out the usage of polluting home heating oils. With motor vehicles contributing nearly 11% of the local fine particulate matter and 28% of the nitrogen oxide emissions, there is a need to curb emissions from the transportation sector.
At Verdansa, we have been determined to reduce air pollution and combat the global climate change in the process too. We set up a campaign in 2005 that continues to this day. George Pakenham, our founder has patrolled the streets of NYC and engaged (politely!) with over 3000 motorists and talked to them about the negative impact of engine idling and the $115 fine that comes with it. We have recorded motorists interactions including their refusal or compliance to turn off the engine, all chronicled in the documentary Idle Threat. The documentary was completed in 2012 and premiered at the Woodstock film festival, followed by a number of other film festivals. It featured Click & Clack from NPR’s car talk and former Mayor Michael Bloomberg and was hailed for its depiction of one man’s mission to make NYC a healthier place. From launching a website and social media campaign back in 2006 to creating a smart phone app to handle file formulation for the DEP of NY in 2019, Verdansa has come a long way. Watch this video to know how you can get a fair bit of coin for your efforts to improve the air quality of the city. We have also listed the steps to submit a citizen complaint on idling in this article.
Why is engine idling a problem?
According to EPA estimates, idling trucks emit 11 million tons of carbon dioxide, 180,000 tons of nitrogen oxides, and 5,000 tons of particulate matter every year, nationwide. Estimates have revealed that NYC drivers waste over $28 million dollars every year due to fuel burned while idling. Apart from the fact that the air pollution from the idling engines contributes to higher levels of smog and soot, these pollutants can irritate and damage human lungs. This leads to a greater risk of asthma, cancer and various other respiratory and cardiovascular conditions. In fact, lung disease is the number three killer (behind heart disease and cancer) in the United States, responsible for one in six deaths. Now that you are aware of idling leading to wastage of money in terms of the gallons of fuel wasted year on year and the risks to public health, it would be great if you make it a habit to turn of your engine when you are waiting at a curb even if it is just for a short period of time. We urge you to take the Pledge to Be Idle Free!
Great campaign to boost public awareness
Everyday across NYC tons of cars and trucks idle needlessly, at times for hours at end and an idling vehicle can release as much pollution as a moving vehicle. The easiest means to be idle-free is to turn off your ignition when you are waiting on the curb or anywhere for over 10 seconds. Contrary to popular belief, idling wastes more gas than restarting your engine and the electronic engines that are fitted into cars today do not need to warm up. In fact, the best way to warm the engine is by easing into your drive. With the simple turn of your key, you can keep the air cleaner for NYC dwellers and help the environment. What’s more you get to keep money in your wallet and save fuel too. You can even report a vehicle, other than any authorized emergency vehicle, that is parked with its engine running for more than three minutes, or parked next to a school with its engine running more than one minute.
We’re glad that this timely campaign is aimed at boosting public awareness on the harmful effects of idling. It will serve as the right platform for expanding the enforcement of anti-idling laws and surely encourage individuals in NYC to file citizen complaints.
Mayor Bill de Blasio wants you to turn off your car and truck engine while parked, and to send the message, the city enlisted the help of a rock legend; CBS2's Alice Gainer reports.