New York drivers stopped in front of a school, either to pick up or drop off a student, or for some other reason might be waiting out front, now have one minute to turn off their engines or risk a citation.

The limit on vehicle idling has been in place for more than three decades. Drivers have previously had up to three minutes to turn off their engines rather than allowing the vehicle to idle, emitting toxic fumes which the city says hurts air quality. In 2009 New York City law makers reduced the idle time to just 60 seconds if the vehicle is stopped in front of a school in an effort to improve air quality in those areas.

Despite all these restrictions, however, few citations are handed out. In fact, of the more than 10 million parking tickets the city serves out each year only a few thousand are for idling violations. This has some folks calling for better enforcement of the existing law.

The Environmental Defense Fund, among others, have been calling on New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, to step up efforts at preventing drivers from leaving their vehicles idling instead of just turning them. the issue, proponents say, is both a matter of public health and safety and one of enforcing laws which are already on the books.

The fact is, letting your car idle instead of turning it off does add to the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by your vehicle. If you need a better reason to turn off your motor rather than letting it idle consider this: allowing your vehicle to idle is a big waste of gas. It’s such a waste of gasoline, in fact, that automobile manufacturers such as Honda and Ford has started building systems into their vehicles which automatically turn off the engine every time you stop and re-start the engine when you go again, without creating a feeling of sluggishness.

So if you’re dropping off or picking up your kid at school in New York, do yourself a favor and turn off your motor. It saves gas, protects the environment and, it’s the law.

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