Idle Public Employees

With gasoline in the vicinity of $4.00 a gallon you probably don’t leave your car idling for very long. When you’re idling you’re getting  zero miles per gallon. That’s why cars with so-called “stop-start”  technology have become more common. Basically those cars shut off the  engine whenever you’re sitting still for more than a second or two, and  then restart it when you need to accelerate again, as when you stop for a  red light and it changes to green. The Honda CR-Z that I tested for The  Truth About Cars is a mild hybrid with stop-start. It uses an electric  motor that both provides engine assist and starts the engine up almost  instantaneously when the stop-start system is engaged. The system works.  I tried very hard to fake out the stop-start system but no matter how I  tried, I could not get the car in gear without the stop-start system  getting the engine running first. It works that fast – and it does save a  significant amount of fuel.


Between technical solutions to the  problem of vehicles wasting fuel idling in traffic and drivers shutting  off their vehicles when they’ll be sitting for a while, it’s rarer and  rarer to see cars and trucks just sitting there with their engines on.  Well, that is, in the private sector. I do see cars and trucks idling  these days but more often than not they are government vehicles driven  by public employees who think nothing of wasting fuel since they aren’t  paying for that fuel themselves. In fact they see wasting taxpayers’ money as a perk of their job.

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When he’s not busy doing custom machine embroidery, Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth and contributes to The Truth About Cars and Left Lane News


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