CONCORD — Chief Joseph O’Connor and the Concord Police Department would like to remind drivers of Massachusetts’ anti-idling law.
State law limits unnecessary idling — running a vehicle’s engine when it is not being driven — to five minutes. Those who violate the law may receive a fine of up to $100 for the first offense and up to $500 for additional offenses.
Exceptions include vehicles being serviced or used to deliver or accept goods where engine-assisted power is necessary, as well as when the engine is being used to provide power to another device, such as a refrigerated truck that is storing perishables. Idling also may be done in extenuating circumstances, such as while actively cleaning snow and ice off a vehicle’s windshield so that the driver will be able to see safely.
The goal is to improve air quality by reducing unnecessary air pollution from idling vehicles. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that idling from heavy-duty and light-duty vehicles combined wastes about 6 billion gallons of fuel each year. About half of that is due to personal vehicles, which generate about 30 million tons of CO2 every year from idling.
In addition to causing pollution, idling reduces a vehicle’s fuel economy and wastes money through gas expenditures.
Residents are reminded that heaters and air conditioning units work faster when the vehicle is being driven, not when it is left idling. Most vehicles reach a comfortable temperature within the first five minutes of driving.
Additionally, once the engine has warmed up, an idling engine causes more pollution by continuously running than by turning it off and starting it up again. More damage occurs to engines left idling for long periods of time than those turned on and off.
“I ask that community members do their part to help curb carbon emissions by being conscious of unnecessary idling and avoiding it whenever possible,” Chief O’Connor said. “It is our hope that by reminding the public of the law, there will be greater compliance, which will take us one step closer to reaching the town’s sustainability goals.”
The following are a few examples of unnecessary idling:
- Sitting in your car in a parking lot with the engine on during mild or cool weather. The interior of your car will stay warm after being turned off for 5 to 10 minutes on all but the coldest days.
- Leaving a vehicle running while unattended for extended periods to let the heater warm it or the air conditioner cool it. Five minutes should be the maximum amount of time unless weather conditions are extreme. Engines should not be left running while the vehicle is unattended for any length of time.
- Running the engine to play a movie or to charge a cell phone.
Drivers should note to always keep a vehicle’s engine running while waiting in traffic for safety reasons.
For more information on Massachusetts’ anti-idling law, please click here.