The Minneapolis City Council and Mayor R.T. Rybak approved changes Friday, to the city?s vehicle idling ordinance that aims to reduce air pollution. The ordinance limits most vehicle idling to three minutes, except in traffic.
"Most of the air pollution in Minneapolis comes from vehicles and cutting down in idling is one easy thing we can all do for our environment, our health, and the health of our neighbors," said Mayor R.T. Rybak.
Vehicle motors release particulate matter, dirt, nitrous oxides, hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide into the air. These chemicals are linked to increased rates of cancer, heart and lung disease and asthma and are the major source of human-caused climate change. Children are especially vulnerable to vehicle air pollution because their lungs are still developing, and they inhale more pounds of pollution per pound of body weight than adults do.
For the driver, reducing idling saves money in fuel. On average, a car will burn more than half a gallon of fuel for every hour spent idling. In general, 10 seconds of idling uses more fuel than restarting the car, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
"In these times of high gas prices, it?s a way for people to save fuel. If you?re sitting in an idling car, you?re getting zero miles a gallon. That?s not good for your pocketbook or the environment," Rybak added.
Engines generally pollute more when cold and driving a vehicle cuts warm-up time in half. Idling a cold engine actually pollutes more than driving it does and idling is harder on the engine.
An existing ordinance already applies to large diesel trucks and buses in Minneapolis, which in general limits idling of those vehicles to five minutes.
In Massachusetts, I believe that any unattended idling is illegal. In other words, you can't run into the convenience store for your coffee with the engine running, it has to be off.
I'm not sure why this law exists, it could be for emissions reasons or to help reduce car theft. I suspect the latter, I seem to remember a bunch of car thefts a few years ago with keys in the ignition.