Idle Reduction Benefits and Considerations

Reducing the idling time of vehicles saves fuel and money, protects public health and the environment, and increases U.S. energy security. Reducing idle time can also reduce engine wear and associated maintenance costs. Idling is also illegal in many jurisdictions.

Saving Fuel and Money

A photo of an open vehicle trunk with a black auxiliary battery pack inside.

Air conditioning and power can be supplied by an auxiliary battery pack unit that fits neatly in the trunk.

Argonne National Laboratory estimates that more than 650,000 long-haul heavy-duty trucks idle during required rest stops. As the trucks idle, they use more than 685 million gallons of fuel per year. Accounting for all road vehicles, from passenger cars to heavy-duty trucks, Argonne estimates that more than 6 billion gallons of gasoline and diesel are lost to idling every year. At a price of roughly $3.50 per gallon, that wasted fuel translates into more than $20 billion annually, much of which could be saved through the use of idle reduction technologies.

Protecting Public Health and the Environment

Idle reduction strategies can dramatically reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, particulate matter, and other harmful pollutants.

Idle reduction strategies also reduce noise pollution. In some areas, heavy-duty trucks and trains are required to limit noise at night. By reducing idle time, drivers can meet noise standards.

Increasing Energy Security

In 2013, the United States imported about 52% of its petroleum, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. In any given year, one-half to three quarters of our petroleum imports are used to fuel vehicles in the form of gasoline and diesel. Using idle reduction strategies to reduce fuel consumption reduces U.S. dependence on imported petroleum and increases energy security.

Complying with Laws and Ordinances

Many states, counties, and municipalities have idle reduction laws and incentives in place to reduce the amount of idling that occurs in their jurisdictions, and more are being added all the time. For a database of laws applying to all types of on-road vehicles, see Clean Cities IdleBase. For information specific to heavy-duty trucks, see the American Transportation Research Institute's Idling Regulations Compendium.