Ten Good Times to Turn It Off

Cutting your idling habit can save gas and money and cut your carbon emissions by 10 to 50%, plus, it’s better for your car AND the lungs of people around you. Many studies corroborate the 10-second rule for idling, and many governments support and enforce it.

But some drivers are afraid to turn off their engines, since they hold beliefs that they are safer when the engine is on. But most of the time, we do nothing but burn precious fuel when we idle. There are many safe and obvious situations in which it's better for everyone if you stop the car completely.

Here are ten good times to turn off your engine:

  1. When you're at a train or drawbridge crossing.
  2. When you are dropping your kids off at school.
  3. When you are talking to a friend out the window of your car.
  4. When you are waiting in line in a parking lot after a concert or game.*
  5. When traffic is stopped for road construction.*
  6. When you're in the left-turn lane of a busy intersection.**
  7. When a light turns yellow, then red, right in front of you.**
  8. When you have to leave your car for a moment and drop off or pick something up.***
  9. When you pull over to look at a map or talk on your phone.***
  10. When you're waiting for someone.***
The rule of thumb is to turn those keys counter-clockwise every time you know you'll be in a full-stop situation for at least ten seconds.

Let’s get back to 350!

* If you are in a line of traffic that is moving sporadically, keep your eye on traffic ahead and start your engine when the third car in front of you starts to move.

** Most traffic lights are programmed for at least 30 seconds. Some left-turn lanes can leave you idling for up to 5 minutes. Count the seconds and get to know the intersections you go through frequently.

***Always turn on your hazards to alert others if you are in an unusual spot or double-parked.

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© 2007 Kristen Caven

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