The schools are open, and the games have begun. All over the county, people are dropping off kids and waiting to pick them up. Car engines are working hard too, putting out exhaust as drivers sit idling away the minutes. 

It is estimated that idling personal vehicles generate around 30 million tons of carbon dioxide every year. Additionally, reducing idling saves fuel, engine wear and makes the air safer to breathe, which is especially appreciated by people with asthma and other breathing conditions. 

Sandy Freeman, of the Colts Neck Green Team, explores some common myths associated with idling:

• Myth 1: Engines must idle to warm up before driving. Today’s electronic engines do not need to warm up before driving, even on the coldest day of winter. The most effective way to warm up an engine is by driving it. Driving a vehicle cuts warmup time in half along with a reduction in fuel consumption and emissions that cause air pollution.

• Myth 2: Idling is good for your engine. Idling can actually damage your engine, from spark plugs to cylinders to exhaust systems. Idling causes fuel deposits, referred to by some as soot, which deposits on engine parts and can lead to increased maintenance and cost.

• Myth 3: Shutting off your engine and restarting it uses more gas than idling. Bottom line, idling for 10 seconds or more utilizes more fuel than restarting your engine. Restarting your car many times has little impact on engine parts such as the battery or startup motor. 

Freeman recognizes some truths about idling, health and the environment.

• Fact 1: Idling contributes to respiratory issues. Children inhale more oxygen per pound of body weight than adults. According to the Department of Energy, “Idle reduction efforts are particularly important in school zones due to the impacts of exhaust on children’s lungs, which continue to develop until the age of 18. Exposure to excess exhaust and smoke can stunt lung growth and contribute to many lung disorders, including asthma.”

• Fact 2: Idling wastes fuel. According to the Consumer Energy Center, idling for one hour burns nearly one gallon of gasoline. Idling your vehicle for just 10 minutes can use as much fuel as it takes to travel five miles. Idling your vehicle for 10 minutes a day uses more than 27 gallons of fuel a year. Nine billion gallons of fuel are wasted in traffic each year. That’s 800 times the amount of oil spilled by the Exxon Valdez.

Turn off your engine and make the air healthier, help the environment and keep the money you would spend on fuel in your pocket.

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