Quantcast
Business

Find Out What City Wants to Reward You for Reporting Idling Vehicles

New York City is worried about engine idling, and we all can benefit. The New York City Council is introducing a bill to allow for citizens to report idling vehicles, with an important twist—citizens can split the fine with the city.

At a rally on the steps of city hall yesterday, Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal and Councilman Donovan Rochards announced this bill to greatly increase the attention by the public on this issue that is both a public nuisance and an economic drain.

To prevent any sort of vigilante justice on idling, individuals would first have to be trained and certified by the Department of Environmental Protection. As my 12 year-old son said, “I would quickly find a couple of delivery trucks and would soon have enough money to buy a Play Station!” Interestingly enough, it is often children that encourage parents to change behavior. This effort may inspire an army of middle school children to get an entire city to stop idling.

Sustainable America has been working on the issue of unnecessary engine idling for several years because it is such a simple way for the public, and for municipalities to save money while at the same time benefiting the environment.

This aspect of looking at our pocketbooks first is important. At Sustainable America, we are working to reduce our nation’s oil consumption by 50 percent and increase food availability by 50 percent, in the next two decades. The reason we focus on food and transportation is because they are the two biggest expenses for Americans after taking care of shelter.

If we can make our food and fuel systems more resilient and efficient, we will improve the economic well-being of every American, especially those that are lower on the economic ladder.

The statistics are stunning. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, individual drivers waste almost four million gallons of fuel every day through unnecessary idling. That’s enough to fill five Olympic swimming pools with fuel. Or, put another way, that’s 200,000 barrels of foreign oil each and every day.

That’s just individual drivers. On top of that, workday idling by commercial trucks across the country wastes another 4 million gallons of gasoline and an additional 3 million gallons of diesel.

And there’s a third category—municipal vehicles. Every highway vehicle, parks and recreation vehicle, and even every emergency vehicle is usually running its engine all day simply to keep the lights on. This is all money down the drain. Money from our take home pay that is burned up for nothing. Money from our taxes that is lost to wasted fuel in the city budget.

To make matters worse, there are well known health and environmental issues caused by vehicle exhaust. It is well documented that vehicle exhaust exacerbates asthma and lung diseases. It has also been shown to especially affect pregnant mothers and children with their smaller lungs are more at risk. Again, these health issues are critical. No one wants a city with dirtier air. We all share an interest in a city with cleaner air. But again, these health effects have economic costs. Our kids miss school from asthma attacks, our hospitals are filled with people suffering from lung problems. We can make a dent in that, too.

The great news is that solutions are easy, and we all have a part to play.

In our own cars, the catch phrase is “Don’t sit idle. Turn it off.” We have developed a website called www.ITurnItOff.com. It helps individuals understand that they can save three to five trips to the gas station every year, just by turning off their engine when they are dropping their kids off at school, when they just need to run into the store for a minute, at the car wash, and every single drive through—whether it’s the bank drive through, or even the local fast food restaurant.

This is because you start saving money after just 10 seconds of sitting idle. That is, every time you are not moving for 10 seconds or more, you will save money by turning off and restarting. Now, when the weather is as brutally cold as it has been recently, or on the hottest summer days, of course you should be reasonable. But most of the year, there are opportunities all day long to save money, our health and the environment, all with this one simple task. Turn it off.

There’s a second opportunity, with anyone who owns a fleet of vehicles. We worked with a restaurant uniform and linen delivery company and helped them understand that their drivers were idling over an hour each day. Why? Because the drivers would leave the trucks running while they made each delivery. With our help, they saved $1,000 per truck per year in fuel costs. They have a fleet of 75 vehicles. Imagine what we could save the city of New York by doing the same.

The trick is that it’s partly solved by changing driver behavior, and there are also inexpensive technologies that can be used. There are companies like GeoTab that use telematics devices to help fleet managers understand which of their drivers are idling excessively, and help them reduce fuel waste. And there are companies like eNow Energy that are putting thin film solar panels on municipal and fleet vehicles to help them run emergency lights or lift gates using solar power rather than the engine.

We have the power to make a difference. The New York City Council is taking a chance on a new way to reduce idling, but we all would benefit if we just made this one simple change in our driving behavior to make a more sustainable America.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

10 Reasons to Turn Off an Idling Car

Will Hawaii Be the First State to Go 100% Renewable?

7 Ways to Take Action on Idling

Show Comments ()
Sponsored
GMO
Soy plants. Pixabay

Mexico Revokes Monsanto's Permit to Market GMO Soy in Seven States

Monsanto has lost its permit to commercialize genetically modified (GMO) soy in seven Mexican states, Reuters reported.

Mexico's agriculture sanitation authority SENASICA revoked the permit—a decision that the St. Louis-based seed giant called unjustified.

Keep reading... Show less
Renewable Energy
Puerto Rico National Guard / Flickr

This Brilliant Initiative Is Sending 100 Solar Trailers to Puerto Rico for Free

A remarkable collaborative effort to deploy portable solar energy systems to relieve critical areas in Puerto Rico is well underway.

The "Power On Puerto Rico" project from the Amicus Solar Cooperative, a nationwide solar energy cooperative, and Amurtel, an international disaster relief nonprofit, is sending 100 off-grid Solar Outreach Systems (SOS) to the storm-battered island.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Rebecca Gruby, CC BY-ND

To Succeed, Large Ocean Sanctuaries Need to Benefit Both Sea Life and People

By Rebecca Gruby, Lisa Campbell, Luke Fairbanks and Noella Gray

There is growing concern that the world's oceans are in crisis because of climate change, overfishing, pollution and other stresses. One response is creating marine protected areas, or ocean parks, to conserve sea life and key habitats that support it, such as coral reefs.

In 2000, marine protected areas covered just 0.7 percent of the world's oceans. Today 6.4 percent of the oceans are protected—about 9 million square miles. In 2010, 196 countries set a goal of protecting 10 percent of the world's oceans by 2020.

Keep reading... Show less
iStock

Geoengineering Could Create More Problems Than It Could Solve

By Tim Radford

Geoengineering—the untested technofix that would permit the continued use of fossil fuels—could create more problems than it could solve.

By masking sunlight with injections of sulphate aerosols in the stratosphere, nations could perhaps suppress some of the devastating hurricanes and typhoons that in a rapidly warming world threaten northern hemisphere cities. But they could also scorch the Sahel region of Africa, to threaten millions of lives and livelihoods, according to new research.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Renewable Energy
Tesla's massive Powerpack battery system in South Australia is charged by a nearby wind farm. Tesla

Tesla Finishes Building World's Largest Battery Month and a Half Ahead of Schedule

Elon Musk has won an audacious bet he made back in March to build a battery system for South Australia in “100 days from contract signature or it is free."

The 100-megawatt Powerpack system is the world's largest, or three times bigger than Tesla and Edison's battery at Mira Loma in Ontario, California.

Keep reading... Show less
Adventure

REI Urges Customers to #OptOutside on Black Friday

BY Connor McGuigan

REI will once again shutter its doors on Black Friday as part of its #OptOutside campaign, which encourages people to forgo bargain-hunting and spend America's busiest shopping day outside. The outdoor retailer will also suspend online sales and provide all 12,000 employees with a paid day off to enjoy the outdoors.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

Blocked From Discussing Climate Change, Valve-Turner Faces 10 Years in Prison After Felony Conviction

By Julia Conley

After a judge refused to allow him to share his reasons for shutting off a tar sands pipeline valve in a protest of fossil fuel mining, 65-year-old climate activist Leonard Higgins was found guilty of criminal mischief—a felony—and misdemeanor criminal trespass. Higgins faces up to 10 years in jail and as much as $50,000 in fines.

"I'm happy for the opportunity to share why I had to shut down this pipeline, and I really appreciate the time and dedication of the jury and the judge," Higgins said. "I was disappointed and surprised by the verdict, but even more disappointed that I was not allowed a 'necessity defense,' and that I wasn't allowed to talk about climate change as it related to my state of mind. When I tried to talk about why I did what I did I was silenced. I'm looking forward to an appeal."

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
iStock

How to Talk to Your Relatives About Climate Change: A Guide for the Holidays

By Abigail Dillen

Most people who know me are too polite to question climate change when I'm around, but there are relatives and old family friends who hint at the great divide between their worldviews and mine. I think they sincerely believe that I would crush the economy forever if I had my way. On the other end of the spectrum are friends and family who are alarmed by climate and genuinely want to know what we and our elected officials can do about it. But no matter who's in the mix, it's hard to bring my work home for the holidays. Most of the time it feels easier to leave our existential crisis unmentioned.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!