It's that time of year - you wake up, it's cold out, and the last thing you want to do is sit on a frozen car seat, grab a frozen steering wheel, and see your breath inside your car. Maybe you run out and start your car, then head back inside to grab your coffee; maybe you're a big-shot with a remote starter. Either way, you could be breaking the law.

According to New Jersey code 7:27-14,15, vehicles may idle for up to three minutes with the following exceptions:

  • May idle for up to 15 consecutive minutes when the vehicle has been stopped for 3 or more hours and ONLY if temperature is 25 degrees F.
  • Buses may idle while actively discharging or picking up passengers for 15 consecutive minutes in a 60 minute period.
  • No idling is allowed in a parking space with available and functioning electrification technology.

Look, I get it - cops aren't going to be cruising around neighborhoods with stopwatches to make sure that you didn't leave your car idling for 3:01...but this is the sort of thing I can see a neighborly feud getting escalated over. Your neighbor keeps letting their dog poop on your lawn? Wait til they leave their car running for 10 minutes and call the cops.

The authorities point to environmental reasons, and while I don't disagree that idling a car is bad for the environment, I'm kind of sick of the solution being these tiny micro-fixes. If I idle my car for 3 minutes, it's not doing substantially less damage than 5 minutes. If the decision-makers really wanted to fix thing, they would crack down on manufacturers to build safer cars, or make everyone drive electric cars, or just ban cars and bring back horse-and-buggies.

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