Students often seek us out for information about sustainability issues, and helping these young activists is one of the most satisfying things about our work. A recent example is Jack Carnahan, a senior from Champlain Valley Union High School in Hinesburg, Vermont, who contacted us asking for help on an issue that we care deeply about: vehicle idling.
We’ve been known to get more than a little irked when we notice people idling their vehicles unnecessarily, like at drive-thrus or school pick-ups. It wastes gas, it pollutes the air, it stinks and it’s just, well, unnecessary. But some drivers get a free idling pass, right? Don’t refrigerated trucks, utility vehicles, safety and emergency vehicles and long-haul trucks often need to keep their engines running to power auxiliary functions? Yes, and no. Here, we explain.
In recent years, we’ve learned about the dangers of cell phone use while driving. It makes sense that distracted driving would lead to more accidents, but do cell phones also lead drivers to absentmindedly idle when their vehicles are stopped?
Most people don’t realize how much gas they’re wasting by idling their cars. But once they learn the facts about idling, they’re usually more than willing to change their behavior. With that in mind, we’ve put together seven steps you can take to raise awareness about this important issue. Help us make turning off your engine rather than idling as commonplace as wearing your seat belt!
“Excuse me for bothering you… but are you aware that it’s against the law to idle your car engine in NYC for more than 3 minutes?”
Those are the words George Pakenham, a New Yorker who works in finance, has used to start thousands of discussions though car windows on the streets of Manhattan. What started as an impulsive act on his Upper East Side block in 2005 evolved into a full-blown citizen activism campaign that went all the way to City Hall and is still going strong. We caught up with George to find out more about his vigilante approach to environmental justice and “Idle Threat: Man on Emission,” the award-winning documentary he made about it.
"I pledge to idle when I am not in traffic for no longer than 10 seconds"