Spring has been slow to arrive, and in colder weather you might be tempted to warm up your vehicle for several minutes in the morning or leave the engine running when you pick up the kids after work.
But wait a second! Our individual actions add up and can improve or worsen the region’s air quality. Here are some things to consider before you start your engine.
- One minute of idling produces more pollution than one minute of driving. The best way to warm up your car is to drive it. An idling engine isn’t operating at its peak temperature, which means idling isn’t an efficient way to warm up your vehicle, even in cold weather. Your car needs no more than 30 seconds to fully circulate oil on days when the temperatures fall below freezing.
- Vehicle emissions affect your health. Studies have linked various types of vehicle emissions to asthma symptoms, cardiopulmonary disease, lung cancer and other causes of death. Children are even more vulnerable to air pollution than adults because they breathe more air per pound of body weight and their respiratory defenses are not fully developed.
- You risk getting a ticket — or worse, having your vehicle stolen. Approximately one out of every five cars stolen in Kansas City, Mo., was idling, and this year Overland Park also saw an increase in thefts specifically linked to idling. Check out this video from the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department explaining why law enforcement can ticket you if you idle your vehicle.
- “Voluntarily” idling is a waste of gas. Remember: when idling, you get 0 mpg! Idling for more than 10 seconds burns more fuel than stopping and restarting your engine. Each day, Americans waste approximately 3.8 million gallons of gasoline by idling their vehicles while parked. By cutting just five minutes from your daily idling time, you could prevent between 220 and 440 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions in a year. (Note: For your safety, do not turn off your engine while waiting at a stoplight or when in traffic.)
We have programs to help!
- Promote an anti-idling policy at your child’s school or at schools in your area. The AirQ Program provides “Idle-Free Zone” signs and information FREE to any school in the Kansas City metro area.
- Reduce idling on company property — join KC Idle Free! This program provides free “Idle-Free Zone” signs to participating businesses and other organizations along with literature for their customers and clients explaining the benefits of not idling.