New Jersey Anti-Idling Law: Thinking Green

Olivia Meier, Community News Editor/Staff Writer

In New Jersey, a law against idling has been in effect since May 2010 and is now being enforced strongly by all police officers and state authorities. Idling affects the environment and public health negatively, which is why I support the laws against it.

Idling occurs when a motor vehicle with a diesel or gasoline engine is running, but the vehicle is not in motion. Vehicles in New Jersey are required, by law, to idle no longer than three minutes. Idling over this limit results in a violation and a minimum of a $250 fine.

Excessive idling causes an unnecessary release of air contaminants into air the in New Jersey, including fine particulates and air toxins. Although we can’t see the particles or smell or feel them, they are extremely dangerous. Fine particle pollution in NJ may cause more premature deaths than homicides and car accidents combined, according to New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection.

Idling laws are allowed to be enforced on public roadways and even on private property, but there are some exceptions to this law. Diesel vehicles may idle for up to 15 consecutive minutes when the vehicle has been stopped for three or more hours and ONLY if the temperature is 25 degrees F or colder. Buses may also idle while actively discharging or picking up passengers for 15 consecutive minutes in a 60-minute period. Also,  situations exempt from the law include the following: motor vehicles stopped in traffic, motor vehicles waiting to be examined by state or federal motor vehicle inspectors or while being repaired, and vehicles that are actively performing emergency services, such as fire, police, military, snow removal, and utility vehicles.

These idling laws may seem unnecessary to drivers who are unaware of the negative effects of standing still. But the fact is that idling is a waste of fuel, as well as money and causes excess wear and maintenance. Most importantly, extended idling is toxic to our health. Think green and don’t idle.

Idling violations can be reported to the 24 hour toll-free environmental hotline: 1-877-927-6337.