But still. Idleness, or more to the point, idling one’s vehicle, ranks right up there. If your car is stopped, and will remain that way for more than 30 seconds, you will save money and increase your green cred by turning it off. It is either a myth, or only true for much older cars, that it takes more gas to restart the car than to leave it running. 30 seconds is not very long, so once you get in the anti-idling habit, you will be turning your car off when you’re parked and waiting for the person you’re picking up to respond to your classy honking or when you and yours are both in the car, about to pull away from the curb, and you realize that somebody forgot the directions and without them you’re going nowhere fast.
You should not turn your car off if you are stopped in traffic, say, at a red light because the following might happen. Light turns green. You reach out to turn the key in the ignition. But it WON’T TURN. And you have a green turn arrow and there are 10 cars behind you, drivers getting impatient and starting to use colorful language. And you start to panic because “Why won’t the key turn? Why can’t I start it?” And now someone is honking at you. And then your husband helpfully points out that the car must be in Park in order to start, and you left it in Drive. So you slam the car into Park, start it, put it back in Drive, and manage to get things together just in time to make it through the intersection before the light turns red, stranding all of the other cars that could have made it through the light if you had not turned off your car. Not that I’m speaking from personal experience or anything, but you never know, I’m sure this has happened to someone, somewhere.
Idling is one of my pet peeves, and I go to great lengths (see above) to avoid it when I am at the wheel. When I witness other vehicles idling, my blood pressure immediately shoots up, especially if it is something that spews really nasty stuff from its tailpipe, like a school bus. Fortunately, some cities and states (including my city) are adopting anti-idling laws as part of clean air measures. This means that I have the law on my side when I go up, knock on their window, and politely ask them to please turn their vehicle off. Yes, this is really something that I do, and it is much more constructive, and sometimes rewarding, than saying nothing and waiting for my blood to boil out of my ears.