Idling your vehicle for more than 3 minutes is against the law in New Jersey.
That’s because vehicle exhaust not only pollutes our air (it is the leading source of hazardous air pollution in New Jersey (source: NJDEP), but also puts people, especially children, at risk for asthma and other respiratory ailments, allergies, and possible long term problems. In addition, vehicles release potent
greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.
- Idling for more than 10 seconds actually uses more fuel than restarting the engine.
- Tests show no more than 30 seconds is needed to circulate engine oil.
- The best way to warm up your vehicle is to drive it.
- Idling can actually damage engines because it is operating not at peak (or
high) operating temperatures. It causes incomplete combustions and more
harmful pollutants to be released into the air. Fuel residues also form
and contaminate engine oil and damage engine parts. In addition, water
can condense in vehicle’s exhaust.
- Modern vehicles don’t require any idling to warm them up.
(Source: Office of Energy Efficiency, Natural Resources Canada)
- Vehicle related air pollution can cause asthma and other
respiratory problems and allergies, especially in children who breathe
at a faster rate than adults. Air toxics also contribute to heart
disease and attacks, as well as higher cancer rates in high traffic
areas (Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency).
- Asthma is the third leading cause of hospitalization among children under the age of 15 (Source: American Lung Association).
- Up to 25% of NJ’s school age children are asthmatic-the leading cause of
school absenteeism and increased visits to the emergency room on hot
summer days (Source: NJ Department of Environmental Protection).
- Diesel vehicles emit numerous cancer causing chemicals, including
benzene and formaldehyde; all vehicle gas emissions account for as many
as half of all cancers attributed to outdoor air pollution (Source:
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)
Take the No-Idling pledge!
If you are going to be idling more than 30 seconds, turn off your vehicle.
Anti-Idling Education & Enforcement Program
Updated February 2012
A car is idling when the engine is turned on but the vehicle is not in motion. This
practice is not only unnecessary, but also is harmful to the environment and our
health. New Jersey has had a no-idling regulation for diesel-fueled commercial
vehicles since 1972. This law was updated in 2009 to include a provision that
states that, with limited exceptions, no motor vehicle (diesel or gasoline fueled)
may have its engine running if motionless for more than three consecutive
minutes. Despite these provisions, idling continues to occur in communities
throughout New Jersey.
Why is it Important?
When we “turn the key” on idling, we reduce the risk of asthma and heart disease
and we help improve air quality. Contrary to popular belief, modern cars do not
require a warm-up period, and turning a car on and off does not harm the engine.
In two minutes, an idling car burns enough gas to travel one mile and on average,
a car emits one pound of carbon dioxide (CO2) every mile it’s driven. During the
course of a year, the average motor vehicle emits nearly 12,100 pounds, or 6
tons, of emissions into the atmosphere. Estimates are based on data from the
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Office of Transportation and Air
Quality and assume an average fuel consumption of 21.5 miles per gallon.
Nearly 95 percent of auto emissions are CO2 and increased atmospheric levels of
CO2 are known to be a main contributor to global climate change. As of January
2011, the EPA officially began regulating the emission of major sources of CO2
and other climate change- causing greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.
This includes new regulations for increased fuel efficiency for cars and light trucks.
However, even with fuel efficient vehicles, it will continue to be important to
reduce CO2 emissions by simply turning off vehicles instead of allowing them to
Idling can lead to the following negative impacts:
Air pollution – on average, an automobile emits one pound of CO2 emissions
from driving one mile. CO2 is a major contributor to global climate change.
Transportation uses account for 30 to 40 percent of the nation’s total CO2
Vehicle exhaust contaminates the air with harmful particles and chemicals.
Fine particle pollution in NJ may cause more premature deaths than homicides
and car accidents combined. Diesel exhaust is a primary component of fine
particle pollution and is known to cause or exacerbate a variety of heart and
Allergies and asthma – Children breathe approximately 50 percent more air per
pound of body weight than adults. Recent scientific studies point to evidence
that diesel emissions not only exacerbate asthma, but that prolonged
exposure can cause asthma and set up a propensity for asthma in the unborn.
Heart disease and heart attacks – Moderate air pollution can trigger heart
attacks. Even the moderate air pollution routinely found in many U.S. cities
may trigger sudden deaths by changing heart rhythms in people with existing
cardiac problems. At pollution levels commonly found in U.S. cities, inhaling
particles appears to disrupt the body’s ability to regulate the pumping of
blood. As particulate counts rise on any given day, a vital indicator called heart
rate variability decreases in some people, disturbing the beat-to-beat
variations that are supposed to meet the demands of activities ranging from
sleep to exercise. The inhaled particles also provoke immune cells and cause
inflammation in the lungs and heart that may exacerbate heartbeat
Cancer – Long-term exposure to combustion-related fine particulate air
pollution is an important environmental risk factor for cardiopulmonary and
lung cancer mortality.Prolonged exposure to diesel exhaust probably increases
the risk of lung cancer and maybe other cancers, too. Parts of diesel exhaust,
such as soot and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), have been shown
to cause cancer.
Gas and money – Idling wastes gas and drains wallets. By turning the motor
off, drivers can save gas and money