The Foolish Idler

It is estimated that 6 billion gallons of fuel are consumed by idling vehicles in the United States each year. Encounters with idling vehicles have become all too commonplace in this town. On a walk through the Village at any moment of the day one is likely to observe parked cars with engines running outside businesses, restaurants, or in parking lots.

As a stark point of reference, if the persons in those cars were in a closed space, say a garage, they would be overcome and lose consciousness within seven minutes. Indeed, this has proved an effective form of suicide, an improvised gas chamber, if you will.

Each time someone intends to sit and idle for ten or more minutes, they should reflect on the deeper meaning of that reference point, because it instantly reveals that what they are putting into the air is a poison that is jeopardizing the health of persons nearby, especially those who may be particularly vulnerable, such as children or people impaired by respiratory conditions.

Our society has at long last acknowledged that cigarette smoking in public places should be prohibited because the smoke is harmful to non-smokers, and there are signs posted to indicate smoking is not permitted under any circumstance.

The very same principle should apply to idling, and for exactly the same reason. An automobile in a stationary position is generating a cloud of emissions not readily diffused–the strong odor of gasoline in proximity to the vehicle is evidence of this fact.

While I have so far stressed the public health dimension of this behavior, I have certainly not forgotten the environmental impact — the cumulative effect of even more greenhouse gases being put into the atmosphere by those who do as they please regardless of the consequences.

The limits to our freedoms are the commonsense limits in which the actions of one are deemed injurious or dangerous to the many. Thus, you cannot cry fire in a crowded theater, smoke in a crowded restaurant, or run your engine in a crowded community.

To those who still seek to idle after all that, just remember, in only seven minutes in a closed space, your actions would be likely to kill you. Hold this in your mind, as you begin to think of others. Please, hold this in your mind.

James Kences

View All Resources