Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Idle Threat

[Air Quality] Today, Salt Lake City Mayor Becker and County Mayor Corroon launched the "idle-free" campaign at Hawthorne elementary school. They want parents who wait to pick up their kids at school to kill their engines if they're idling for more than 10 seconds.

Look, I'm all for turning off my car whenever I wait for anything ... from dry cleaning to fast food to a dinner date ... when it makes sense to do so. Sorry, if it's snowing, and I want to keep the car warm and the snow from collecting on my windshield, I'll likely keep idling.

I'd like to be able to turn off my car at stoplights or if stalled in freeway traffic, where I know vehicles are pumping crap into the air by the boatload. But it's not safe and it may not be legal. Why isn't there a technology for cars that puts engines in a "sleep" mode when the car is not moving? That would be far more efficient than relying on the driver to turn the car on and off—all of which can't be that good for your car's ignition system and battery.

I don't disagree with the no-idling premise (as long as it's a suggestion and not a law). But man, do I resist "public awareness" social-engineering campaigns—all costing taxpayer bucks, that involve "toolkits" of logos, posters, window hangers, PSAs—and that are introduced at schools so kids can then bug their parents. Look, let me decide to do the right thing. (I am Andy Rooney and I approve this message.) (Jerre Wroble)


  1. There is a technology that puts engines into "sleep" mode -- they're used in hybrids.

    Hybrid cars turn off their gas engines while stopped. IIRC, the engine is turned off while stopped relying on the battery for in-car conveniences and accelerating the vehicle.

    I understand the concerns about keeping the engine on for heat and the wipers, but is it really necessary if the vehicle is already warmed up? It's not like all the hot air will instantly disappear after turning off the engine.

  2. Good one, Jerre. As if there isn't enough stupid shit to worry about these days.


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