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Vermont's uneven idling laws - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vermont's uneven idling laws

Burlington, Vermont - January 24, 2011

Below freezing temperatures Monday morning had many people warming up their vehicles, but idling in Vermont can be illegal in some communities.

"This winter I probably let it run four times while I ran into the store or bank, you just gotta," said Chuck Hahn, a Burlington resident who let his car idle Monday because of the frigid temps. "I just barely started it and I need to let it warm up. I don't want it to stall out on the road."

But because of health and environmental concerns, letting your car idle in Burlington can get you a ticket, not to mention public health issues. "There's an increased risk of lung cancer from diesel emissions in particular -- increased risk due to asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases and other health problems," said Rebecca Ryan with the American Lung Association.

But on a cold day like Monday, Hahn wasn't the only one letting his engine run. In Vermont you can't leave your car unattended while it's running, but places like Yipes Stripes in Williston, which install remote car starters, say that the law doesn't seem to be an issue. "Overall we're up over last year, we had a very strong December -- December was up over 2009 -- January is trending up," said Jeff Cook with Yipes Stripes.

"There's a myth about idling. People think they need to run their engine -- warm it up -- before they get started, but in fact with current technologies you don't need to do that at all," Ryan said.

"It's been a non-issue for us. Customers really haven't mentioned it," Cook said.

In Burlington, if you idle your car for more than three minutes, it's against the law. But in nearby South Burlington, just like every other town in Vermont, there's no such law. For the past six years there have been bills introduced to put state wide limits on idling, but they have never passed. The American Lung Association hopes that changes this year. It is also working with companies to put a cap on the problem. "We are currently doing a program called "Idle Free Fleets" and working with companies in Rutland and Chittenden Counties to encourage them to adopt the policy," Ryan said.

But for people like Chuck Hahn, their keys are going to stay in the ignition no matter what the consequence.

Gina Bullard - WCAX News

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