I live in Vancouver, British Columbia, which is a city on the sea. It's connected to some other parts of the province by a ferry system. I take the ferry every so often, usually when I'm headed someplace nearby for a quick getaway. It's a lovely way to travel with children, because while you're on the boat the kids can get out of the car and play in the indoor play area, or head out to the deck to laugh in the wind that blows over the ocean.
If you take a ferry locally, you'll be greeted with many signs and announcements advising you not to leave your car idling. This is because leaving your car idling is bad for the earth. It releases carbon dioxide and other gases and pollutants. It burns fuel, which as we all know is pretty expensive. And for modern vehicles, it's entirely unnecessary. In fact, drivers are routinely advised to warm up their cars by driving them, not idling, even in winter. It takes only a few seconds for a car to be ready to go.
In fact, in Switzerland, drivers are required to turn off their engines at red lights. It turns out that if your car will be off for at least 10 seconds, you're saving gas by stopping and starting it again, rather than leaving it running. Apparently, the Swiss have an indicator to let you know when the light is about to turn green so that you can start again. We don't have that here in North America, but there are still a lot of times and places that most drivers can stop idling.
|My car is idle, but not idling|
If you had asked me a couple of years ago, I would have said that I don't spend much time sitting in an idling car. However, as I've become more aware, I've noticed more and more situations when I leave my own car on unnecessarily. For instance, on the rare occasion that I drive my daughter to school, I often leave my car idling while I help her out without thinking. I have also found myself idling while I wait in drive-thru line-ups, while I wait to pick someone up, at train crossings, and after I turn my car on but before I start driving someplace, as I get organized.
Of course, it's going to take more than cutting out idling to battle climate change. But every little bit helps - and if you can save some money while you save the planet, even better.
Do you make an effort to avoid leaving your car idling? Have you noticed times when you leave it idling, as your awareness grows?