Message from Burlington High School Environmental Club
Title: To be an Idol, you can’t Idle
State Law Mandates No Idling on School Grounds
Global warming. Air Pollution. Smog. These are topics that make the news every single day. But did you know that limiting something you may do daily could have a major effect on reducing the impact we have on our environment? Idling! Idling occurs any time your car is stopped but the engine is running, and it occurs more often than you may think. Whether stopped at a red light, waiting in the drive through, or sitting waiting to pick up your child from school, we spend a significant amount of time idling. An idling car uses a significant amount of fuel (anywhere between 1⁄5 and 7/10 of a gallon per hour) depending on the car or truck. With gas prices going up, idling costs you money. Contrary to popular belief, a car does not use more gas to restart the engine than to keep in idle. In fact, idling for more than 10 seconds uses more gas than if the engine was shut off. Another popular belief is that the engine needs to warm up before it can be driven. However, that is not the case with modern engines, and the engine actually warms twice as quickly when being driven. There are many obvious economic and environmental benefits from not idling, but there also many health benefits too, particularly for your children. And guess what? IT’S THE LAW!!
A law you ask? Yes! Massachusetts state law (540 CMR) mandates that vehicles not be idling on school grounds or else risk a penalty of $100 for the first offense, possibly escalating to $500 for subsequent offenses. Those fines may hurt the wallet, but idling hurts the body. Idling cars release the same pollutants that moving cars do, and the stationary nature of idling cars leads to the pollutants building up and possibly entering the school building through the ventilation system. The exhaust of cars is linked to adverse health effects such as asthma, allergies, heart disease, increased risk of cancers, and other lung problems (EMA).
So ask yourself…is the minor inconvenience of turning the engine off and on worth the health, economic, and environmental benefits of reducing idling time? We think so. After all, to be an idol, you can’t idle!!
Written By: Jason Biundo and Azam Baig BHS Class Of 2017 and AP Environmental Science
Leibrock, Amy “10 Reasons to Turn Off an Idling Car.” Sustainable America . Web. 08 May
“Attention Drivers! Turn off Your Idling Engines.” Environmental Defense Fund . Web. 08 May
“Everything You Need To Know About Idling.” EMA . Web. 08 May 2017.
Lawlib. “540 CMR: Registry of Motor Vehicles.” Court System . 07 May 2014. Web. 08 May
“The Facts about Idling Your Car.” Boston.gov . 17 July 2016. Web. 08 May 2017.