Advocates: NYC Idling Law Not Being Enforced, Children Put At Risk

Mayor: Enforcement Is Nonexistent, But Police Priorities Must Take Precedent

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Engine exhaust from cars, trucks and buses has been linked to cancer, strokes and New York City’s high rate of childhood asthma.

The city has tough laws to prevent drivers who sit with their vehicles running, but, as CBS2’s Don Dahler has seen, some say it’s no more than an idle threat, because it’s rarely enforced.

When school lets out, scenes of drivers, parked and idling as they wait to take kids home, are playing out all over the city.

Parents say it’s a dangerous health situation and they’re sounding the alarm.

They said the longer the engines run, the more toxins are released into the air and this is putting children at risk.

“I have an 8-year-old son with asthma. I do worry the air quality in New York City is pretty bad.  The, the idling just makes it worse,” said one parent.

It’s made even worse because many drivers are ignoring the law that limits idling time near schools to one minute.

CBS 2 cameras tracked drivers at local schools and found driver after driver breaking the law.

At one Upper East Side school, CBS 2 watched as one driver sat idling well past the one-minute limit, up to 10 minutes and all the way to 15 minutes.

Some drivers said they know all about the law, but disregard it anyway.

“Yes, I know that. Actually I was planning to shut it off,” said one driver.

Environmental advocates complain enforcement of the law is virtually nonexistent.

In Manhattan last year, the NYPD issued 2,210 tickets for idling, of which 66 were issued in Queens, 34 in Brooklyn and just 12 in the Bronx.

“When NYPD wants to enforce the law, it enforces the law… It’s been pretty clear, if you look at the data… Twelve tickets across the whole Bronx in a year? They’re not enforcing the law,” said Rich Kassal of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg admits enforcement could be better, but said that the police have other priorities.

“People that enforce that law have plenty of other things to do. The Police Department’s first job is going to be worrying about a lot more serious things,” Bloomberg said.

But activists and parents say their main concern is children’s health.

By the way, the idling limit on city streets not near schools is three minutes.

What do you have to say about this story? Sound off in the comments section below!

  • Toe nail clipper

    The city should do something about the 4 to 5 fdny trucks idling in front of the
    supermarket everyday while 20 city employes play hide the ham inside the store . fdny waste of $$$$$$

    • Michael H.

      Those fire fighters, who put their lives on the line for you every day of their lives, work in 24 hour shifts, where they are responsible to feed themselves. At the same time, they have to be ready to roll at a moments notice to GO SAVE YOUR LIFE should a call come in. Yet here you are playing armchair commando, badmouthing the very people who wont hesitate to run into a burning building to drag your sorry butt outside. How pathetic are you?

      • Billy

        Please – the firefighters live life like they are still in the frat house. The clipper is right – pathetic is people like you that idolize these guys. Outsource them for a tremendous savings. My landscaper knows how to squirt water from a hose also.

  • Rob Maeurer

    I believe the city had a brief period around May 2010 they did enforce it which I was definitely thankful for. I drive a diesel engine bus in the city every day. Many of my coworkers leave the engine on at pickups. I turn it off if I anticipate waiting longer than a minute or so. My sister, mom, bro-in-law, and wife all have asthma. I worked in the most sensitive neighborhoods for 5 years (South Bronx/ Harlem). It’s definitely hard to work as a professional driver in this city with the parking rules, but we can do our part by turning off the bus, truck, car, etc.

  • Hank Cortez

    Same thing.

  • Hank Cortez

    I wrote this comment based on a CBS Article on how car pollution is affecting our children. I think that this is not the only thing affecting them health wise,  It is only much more noticeable.  How about the increase in obesity that is leading to an increase in early chronic diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol that all lead to early heart conditions.  These problems can lead to death at an early age. There are simple and inexpensive ways of making changes.  kids can walk home instead of driving.  In addition, making schools and parents responsible by getting rid off vending machines that include soda and junk foods and incorporating other ways to create funds to pay for children’s books.  All of what we do today will reflect in our tomorrow.  The way we will be treated and handled by the young today is our decision.  If our children die before we do who will take care of us.  For our selfishness today we will harm our young and our selves in multiple ways.  Time is of essence so we should all get educated and begin to incorporate good habits.  

  • hoipoloi

    Truckers idle their engines to maintain heat &/or cooling. Refrigerated (reefer) units ,which run on diesel, need to run to maintain their cargo, i.e. meat, produce, etc.

  • goblin

    If they’re so worried about emssions from vehicles, perhaps the city should consider eliminating the scam called Alternate Side parking.

    I wanna see how many city employees actually follow this law. I doubt they’re gonna turn the engine off when it’s freezing outside.


    I WILL IDIE ANY TIME I WANT YOU SAY IT linked to cancer, strokes and New York City’s high rate of childhood asthma.BULL-CRAP THIS IS ONLY TO COLLECT MORE MONEY FROM PEOPLE TO GIVE MORE TICKETS THIS LAW IS UNConstitutionABLE

    • Bklyn mom

      What a total jerk you are!

  • sigusmunt Kreusz

    What is the excuse for idling? I have heard, a long time ago, even during our serious oil crises, that there is a reason drivers refuse to ruen off their motors and it isn’t the weather. I don’t like it but decades ago II had ,”There is a good reason not to tun the engine off, dummy!” thrown in my face repeatedly. Numerous people have said, “It ends up using more energy and makes more pollution if I have to turn it on and off, repeatedly, dummy!”
    and the famous , “Shut your Fuc*ing mouth, dummy!” or , “What are you? Some kind’a Fuc*ing hippy tree hugger? Dummy!”
    Which is the right excuse or are all wrong?

  • Frank

    This is NEWS ?

  • Ted Anthony

    Send a few inspectors to South End Avenue in Battery Park City and count the Fresh-Direct trucks making deliveries, parked in the center divide, engines running continuously—while doing some errands one days, one truck was idling for over 1 hr. 15 min. while the guys were making their deliveries to different buildings along S. E. and Rector.

    • Michael H.

      I believe the refrigerated trucks need to be running to keep the cooling units going. I know that was the case with older trucks. I’m not sure about the newer ones.

    • Randall

      Ted Anthony – you are 100% CORRECT!

      FRESH DIRECT should be put out of business. They are the biggest joke – their trucks sit and idle for hours on end.

      Several of us are inching towards a class action suit against them. Whenever you complain to them, they give you a half-arse answer about being sorry – and then they just do the same thing all over again.

      FRESH DIRECT ARE THE BIGGEST OFFENDERS!!!! FRESH DIRECT (if you are reading this) – GO TO HELL!!!!!

  • Jack Walsh

    Yes, and guess who is the biggest culprit?
    School Bus drivers!

    • Jack Walsh

      Oh, and let’s not forget the guys that like to sleep, while keeping their engines idling while they’re supposed to be working! I’m taliking about the FDNY- EMT!

      • Michael H.

        Good job trash talking the men and women putting their necks on the line to save yours day after day.

        • jack walsh

          Yeah, You are absolutely right! These are the same guys that might have to put their neck on the line to rescue me after breathing all the fumes unnecessarily!
          Nice one Michael!

        • goblin

          Since when did “putting your life on the line” become an excuse for breaking the very law they’re enforcing?

          • jack walsh

            Exactly right Goblin!

          • Michael H.

            EMTs do not enforce any laws. FDNY only enforces fire code violations. Neither have diddly squat to do with the idling law and both are likely exempted from it in the first place.

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