Capitol Connection: Don’t Idle, It’s the Law

July 9, 2014

You may have seen “No Idling” signs in school parking lots before, but did you know it is actually against the law to leave your car idling anywhere in Connecticut? Even in the summer heat, when you may be more tempted to leave your parked car running with the air conditioning blasting to keep you or a pet cool, it’s important to remember the laws in place.

Here’s what you need to know to abide by the Connecticut’s “no idling” regulations.

In an effort to protect our air, environment and health, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) adopted a regulation in 2004 that prohibits vehicles of all kinds from unnecessary idling for more than 3 minutes. The regulation applies to all “mobile sources,” including all vehicles. Exceptions are made for the following situations:

  • When a vehicle is forced to remain motionless because of traffic conditions or mechanical difficulties over which the operator has no control
  • When it is necessary to operate defrosting, heating or cooling equipment to ensure the safety or health of the driver or passengers
  • When it is necessary to operate auxiliary equipment that is located in or on the vehicle to accomplish the intended use
  • To bring the vehicle to the manufacturer’s recommended operating temperature
  • When the outdoor temperature is below 20 degrees Fahrenheit
  • When the vehicle is undergoing maintenance that requires it to be operated for more than three (3) consecutive minutes, or
  • When a vehicle is in queue to be inspected by U.S. military personnel prior to gaining access to a U.S. military installation

So, why is such a law needed? An idling vehicle emits 20 times more pollution than one traveling at 30 miles per hour, according to the Connecticut DEEP. That means idling cars do more damage to the environment than a car in motion.

When idling, vehicles can emit air toxics, chemicals, gasses and soot. These particles can cause acid rain and damage air quality. They can also aggravate asthma, allergies and other health conditions. Even if you can’t see the exhaust, unhealthy emissions are still there.

Idling is not only an environmental threat; it also takes a toll on your wallet. Just 10 seconds of idling usually uses more fuel than turning off the engine and restarting it.

My advice, to help you abide by the law, is to eliminate the need to keep your car running. If you want to bring your pet for a car ride, don’t leave him behind once you park. Leave your pet at home where he’ll be cool and safe instead. If you’re worried about your car getting hot and uncomfortable, try to use other methods to stay cool: park under shade, crack a window, use a sun shade or cover your seats with blankets that can absorb heat and can be removed when you’re ready to get into your car.

The next time you have to run into the grocery store or bank and think about leaving your car running to keep that AC flowing, please remember our state laws and why they are in place. Stay safe, smart and cool – all while following the law and protecting our environment.