The Dangers of Leaving Your Vehicle Running

Most drivers do not think that there is anything wrong with leaving their cars running while unattended. In some cases, they do it to warm up their vehicles in cold weather, while others leave their cars running in order to go into to a store or into a coffee shop for a short while. However, everyone should know that in some states, including Florida, as well as such states as Pennsylvania, Maryland, Colorado, Ohio, Wisconsin, Texas and others, it is considered illegal to leave a running motor vehicle unattended.

According to the Florida Statute 316.1975, a person driving or that owns any kind of motor vehicle cannot leave it unattended before performing the following actions: “Stop the engine, lock the ignition and remove the key.” In case the engine has not been stopped, the vehicle cannot remain unattended for any length of time. Even if the driver leaves his or her car only for several minutes, it doesn’t matter. The violation of this section of Florida’s State Statute is a noncriminal traffic violation that can result in a fine of up to $100 (it can be bigger in some cases) and the addition of points to the driver’s driving record.

It is important to note that the section 316.1975 of the Florida Statute does not apply to the drivers who operate an authorized emergency vehicle during the performance of their official duties. In this case, the emergency vehicle needs to have an active antitheft device that will prevent it from being stolen. In addition, delivery vehicles, as well as the vehicles that collect solid waste or recovered materials, can be left running unattended while performing professional duties provided they have antitheft devices as well. However, for most non-commercial or professional vehicles, the statue is designed to protect the driver, as well as nearby property, and others who may be nearby.

Running Vehicles are Easy to Steal

There are obvious reasons as to why it is illegal to leave a running motor vehicle unattended. If a running car is left unsupervised, it becomes very easy to steal. According to police statistics, about two people per week report that their cars have been stolen as a result of leaving them unattended to warm up in winter. In this case, law enforcement officers have to dedicate their officers to the crime to find the vehicle and to punish the violators. However, since police have limited resources and might need these officers for patrolling other crimes, they are trying to reduce the number of car thefts through introducing certain laws. Indeed, many of the car thefts are crimes of opportunity, when a passerby simply takes an unattended, running vehicle, because it is an easy thing to do. Laws like the one listed in the section 316.1975 can help prevent these crimes.

However, there are other dangers to leaving a running motor vehicle unattended. One of the most important ones is noise pollution because of the working engine, wasted fuel and environmental pollution. It is undoubted that an idling engine emits as much pollution into the air as the moving one. However, since it is not necessary to keep the engine on while the motor vehicle is not moving, pollution released in this case is completely unnecessary. The driver needs to turn the engine off when he or she stops and parks the car in order to make sure to save fuel and to avoid emitting harmful pollutants into the environment. In fact, considering the environmental benefits, it is highly recommended to turn off the engine in the motor vehicle during waits that last longer than one minute.

Unattended Running Vehicles Offer Potential Harm to Others

One of the most serious dangers of leaving a running motor vehicle unattended is the threat to other people’s lives. A running, unattended car can start moving, if not properly parked, and can endanger anyone around. There have been multiple incidents when people were run over by idle, unsupervised cars. Some of the victims were injured, while others were killed by the incidents. As a consequence, leaving an unattended running motor vehicle can result in a criminal offense, as well.

According to all the above-mentioned reasons, making it illegal to leave an unattended, running motor vehicle was the correct decision. If drivers turn off the engines, lock their cars and take the keys before leaving their vehicles, they can avoid car theft, unnecessary environmental pollution and, most importantly, the unpremeditated injury of innocent bystanders.