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reasons why you shouldnt idle your car

When it comes to the environment, every second that a car is idling counts. While it might seem harmless to leave your car’s engine on while you are waiting to pick up someone or waiting for a food order, it’s better for you and the environment if you choose to turn your car off. Here’s why you should rethink idling.

To begin with, let us try and understand what idling is and where idling happens. An idling car or vehicle is one whose engine is running while it is not in use or remains parked. Idling happens most often at drive-thrus, driveways, school parking lots/pickup lines, car washes, malls, bridges and a number of other places. Studies have proved that an average American spends 16 minutes a day idling their vehicle. We have compiled a list of reasons why you should stop idling and they are listed below:

  1. Save money: Did you know that letting your vehicle idle for over 10 seconds burns more fuel than turning it off and restarting? Apart from the money saved on fuel costs, you would be saving yourself money for damaged engine components, including spark plugs and exhaust systems.
  2. Save the planet: For every 10 minutes that you leave your engine idling, you contribute to one pound of carbon dioxide being released into the environment. Reports have shown that in New York City alone, idling cars and trucks contribute to 130,000 tons of carbon dioxide (yearly), which is the primary contributor to global warming. Cutting idling time is surely going to contribute towards a greener and a cleaner planet.
  3. Save your car or vehicle: Idling can have a negative impact on your car’s engine components. Your car’s fuel is only partially combusted as the engine isn’t at peak temperature and this is likely to result in fuel residue along the cylinder walls. This leads to increased fuel consumption and impacts engine components as well.
  4. Save your health: By reducing the emission of carbon dioxide and other pollutants, you are cutting down on hazardous pollution in your town or community. Research has suggested that these pollutants can cause serious human illnesses including asthma, heart disease, chronic bronchitis, and cancer. Not to forget, kids are especially vulnerable to lifestyle ailments such as allergies and asthma as they inhale more air per pound of body weight. Since idling is common near schools, it is important to inform vehicle owners to turn off their cars.
  5. Save yourself penalties: Penalties vary from state to state for idling. In Washington D.C., for instance, you can get fined $5,000 if your car is idling for three minutes. In Pennsylvania, you can idle for 20 minutes in the event of low temperatures, below 40º. There are states that don’t allow you to let your car idle too. Don’t think that it’s the lawmakers’ way of messing with you. It is an initiative to save the environment.

The next time you find yourself waiting to pick up someone or idling due to any other reason - ask yourself – do you really need the engine running now? And, do yourself and your environment a favor. Shut off the engine!



Our Accomplishments through the years

  • May 2006 - George Pakenham dismayed by idling vehicles outside his NY apartment, polluting his air
  • September 2006 - Started recording encounters with trucks, cars and trucks and over 5 year notes nearly 3000 engagements. Website and social media campaign launched
  • December 2007 - Demo to documentary produced – 12 minutes
  • Summer 2007 - Initial documentary footage captured
  • Summer 2007 - Alliance with Environmental Defense Fund formulated to address the idling engine problem
  • February 2009 - Mayor Bloomberg signed new idling bill – updating 1971 law
  • May 2009 - New Yorker article by Ben McGrath creates worldwide attention
  • Summer 2009 - Other stories in local CBS TV, NPR, BBC radio
  • Fall 2012 - The documentary film Idle Threat is completed and has World Premiere at the Woodstock film festival. Many other festivals follow including The Environmental Film Festival of our Nations’ Capital. Three Rivers in Pittsburgh, Wild and Scenic in California. The film goes on Wild and Scenic nationwide film circuit.
  • Spring 2013 - Big Nose Big City, companion children’s book to the film, is launched – Available on Amazon Idle threat also available on Amazon
  • Summer 2013 - 5-year contract with a film distributor s signed and the film appears on KCET, public TV in Los Angeles
  • 2013 - Idle Threat shown to various governmental agencies in NYC. The effort begins to create a bill to enable concerned citizens the right to submit evidence to the Department of Environmental Protection and received 50% of the $350 dollar fine. Hence, bill 717a was announced on the steps of city fall, winter 2014. Other global interviews and articles, including 2nd radio show on NPR. Also acclaimed on PARADE magazine that Pakenham is Eco Man of the Year in the State of NY
  • Dec 19, 2017 - Bill 717a is voted on in City Council and passes 47 – 3. Effective date Feb 18, 2018
  • June 2018 - 2nd New Yorker article by Ben McGrath is published
  • Summer 2018 - NY Post, NBC TV news, CBS, all run stories on the new law
  • Fall 2018 - Yale University runs a story
  • Winter 2019 - HBO Vice TV picks up the Yale story and creates their own 9-minute story for cable. It gets 1.4 million views on their YouTube channel and 4.2 million views on their Facebook page
  • Summer 2019 - Berlin based TV show, Galileo, sends crew to NYC to shoot their own story. (9 million viewers in Europe), 2nd BBC radio interview. Idle Threat posted on YouTube for a free download. Formulation of VERDANSA as a nonprofit entity to create a smartphone app to handle file formulation for the DEP of NY.
  • March 2020 - Launch of Smartphone App