Minneapolis Health Department

Public Service Center
250 S. 4th. Street, Room 510
Minneapolis, MN 55415
health@minneapolismn.gov
(612) 673-2301

Air Quality

Anti-Idling Vehicle Ordinance

Minneapolis’ recently amended vehicle idling ordinance may require you to make a few changes in your habits. If you and enough other drivers reduce unnecessary vehicle idling, the result could be cleaner air for everyone.

Outreach and Educational Material

Idling fact sheet (Word document)
No Idling flyer (pdf)

No Idling brochure [mock ticket] (pdf)

Ordinance Information

City Council Ordinance, Chapter 58 Idling (pdf)
Exemptions in the new law

The newly amended ordinance now restricts idling of cars and other gas or diesel powered vehicles to no more than three minutes in a one hour period. Another portion of the ordinance limits idling of buses, trucks and other diesel engine-powered vehicles to no than five minutes in a one hour period. (Exceptions are outlined later in this article.)

Exhaust from an idling car carries a higher load of pollutants than a moving car, so reducing unnecessary idling is one easy way we can all do something to improve air quality. Vehicle motors release particulate matter, dirt, nitrous oxides, hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide into the air. These chemicals are linked to increased rates of cancer, heart and lung disease and asthma and are the major source of human-caused global warming.

While most folks are already turning off their cars when they’re not on the move, they sometimes let their cars idle by habit, especially when waiting to pick someone up or dropping something off. If cleaner air isn’t incentive enough, consider that your idling car is getting zero miles to the gallon. Turning off your engine in these situations will save you money. On average, a car will burn more than half a gallon of fuel for every hour spent idling. In general, 10 seconds of idling uses more fuel than restarting the car.

Another cause of excessive idling is warming up a car. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, warming up a car’s engine in winter needs no more than 30 seconds. Driving a vehicle cuts warm-up time in half, and idling is harder on the engine than driving.

There are exceptions to the three minute idling restriction for cars and most other gas or diesel powered vehicles.

1. Vehicles may idle when stopped in traffic.

2. Police, fire, ambulance, public safety or other City vehicles may remain running to operate lights, circulate water in tanks or maintain accessories needed during emergency or enforcement activities.

3. Police K9 or Animal Control vehicles may remain running to maintain a safe climate for animals.

4. City vehicles may remain running at job sites during inclement weather if a supervisor grants authorization.

5. Idling is allowed to diagnose repair needs.

6. Idling is allowed if needed to operate defrosters, heaters or air conditioners to prevent a safety or health emergency.

7. Vehicles may idle up to 15 minutes in a one hour period if the outside air temperature is less than zero degrees or higher than 90 degrees.

8. Vehicles may idle if the engine must be running to operate work-related mechanical operations (e.g., operating lifts, processing cargo, etc.).

9. Cabs may idle for up to 15 minutes in a one hour period to maintain comfort of paying passengers.

Some of the exceptions to the portion of the ordinance restricting idling of trucks, buses and other commercial diesel engine-powered vehicles to no than five minutes in a one hour period include:

  • Vehicles stopped in traffic.
  • Vehicles loading or unloading cargo.
  • Police, fire, ambulance, public safety or other emergency or law enforcement vehicles being used in an emergency capacity or training mode (not for the convenience of the vehicle operator).
  • Vehicles operating defrosters, heaters or air conditions to prevent a safety or health emergency (not for rest periods).
  • Idling needed to diagnose repair needs.
  • Idling needed during vehicle inspections.
  • Vehicles may idle if the engine must be running to power work-related mechanical operations (e.g., operating lifts, processing cargo, etc.).

Aug. 2008

Last updated Sep. 27, 2011