Could Idling Your Car to Cool It Down Soon Be Illegal in Indiana?
I recently read an article from one of our sister stations in Illinois that said letting your car idle while you're not in it is illegal in their state which would apply to the idea of starting your car, kicking the A/C on full blast, then heading back into your house to finish getting ready while your car cools off. Out of curiosity, I did a little digging to see if Indiana had a similar law in place.
What Indiana Law Says About Letting Your Car Idle
Currently, there is no law on the books in the Hoosier state making it illegal to let your car idle without you in it. However, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) would rather you didn't due to the impact it can have on the environment.
According to the IDEM:
Only ten minutes of idling per day adds more than 50 pounds of carbon monoxide, particles, nitrogen oxides, and other toxic gases to the air per year. If you idle more than 30 seconds, your car will emit more air pollution than if you turn it off and on again.
Potential Public Health Effects of Car Idling
Not only is all that extra pollution bad for the general environment, but it also has the potential to be bad for our individual health. A report published by the Environmental Defense Fund in 2009 says those pollutants being created by your vehicle's exhaust system have been linked to serious health issues such as "asthma, heart disease, chronic bronchitis, and cancer."
Of course, there are times when you have no choice but to let your car idle for long periods of time. For example, rush hour traffic, or an accident or road construction that has traffic either at a standstill or moving along slowly. But letting it sit in your driveway just to let the A/C run and cool down the interior is something you can control.
Could an Idling Law Be Coming to Indiana in the Future?
While there's no official law right now saying you can't let your car idle for as long as you want, that could change in the future. In January of this year (2023), District 57 State Representative Craig Haggard introduced House Bill 1324 which would make it illegal for most motor vehicle operators (i.e. drivers like you and me) to stop and temporarily leave a motor vehicle unless we stop the engine, lock the ignition, and remove the key. The exception would be people who operate emergency response vehicles such as police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical personnel along with a few others.
It's not clear whether or not Representative Haggard introduced the bill with the purpose of reducing the amount of pollution a car pumps out while idling however, you have to think if the bill passes it would do that whether it intended to or not.
If passed, the bill would go into effect on July 1st (2023), but it seems unlikely that will happen. After its initial reading in January, it was referred to the Committee on Roads and Transportation which has yet to review it based on its weekly agenda.
That doesn't necessarily mean it's dead in the water. However, if a change to the law is going to happen, it seems highly unlikely that it will happen this year.
Other Ways to Cool Your Car Quickly
Even though it's not against the law right this minute, it turns out there are other, and potentially quicker, ways to cool your car down in the sweltering heat of an Indiana summer that doesn't involve letting it sit and run for several minutes.