The average driver spends 6 minutes a day idling unnecessarily. Lately, I’ve been thinking about where that idling occurs. There are obvious places, like the school car rider line, drive throughs and ATMs. There are also the less obvious places, where you may find yourself idling without even realizing it, such as when we’re leaving an event, running an errand, or making a phone call.
Whatever your entertainment venue, you often end up idling as you leave. As soon as the movie, game, or show is over, we get out of our seats, only to sit once again, this time in a snarl of traffic. Maybe it’s time to make a better game plan. Why sit in the line that snakes out of the parking garage, idling away, when you can enjoy a coffee while discussing the performance you’ve just seen? Does the tailgate have to end with the final horn? Instead of jumping into event-related traffic, relax, listen to the post-game inteviews and let the traffic dissipate.
Any time you think, “I’ll just be a minute” and you’re tempted to leave the engine running, is a moment for self-examination. It’s easy to underestimate the time it takes to run those little errands, like returning a movie. If you count the time to takes to unbuckle your seatbelt, reach for the movie, run up to the kiosk, make sure the movie goes all the way into the slot–okay, you’re already way past ten seconds. If you don’t believe it, have someone time you, but only if you can stand the humiliation of your teenager telling you just how slow you really are.
With cell phone calls, it’s all about safety. It’s smart to pull out of traffic and park to take a cell phone call or answer a text. What’s not so smart is to run your engine while you’re doing it. Is this phone call going to take more than ten seconds? Probably. Might as well turn off the engine, save the gas and help everyone breathe easier.
In Louisville, unnecessary idling wastes about 4 million gallons of fuel per year. Let’s save the money, the fuel and the air by following the ten second rule when it’s safe and wise to do so.