Christine Stuart photo

Connecticut residents can forget about leaving their cars on when they stop at the bank or pick up pizza for the kids. The senate voted 30 to 5 on a bill that prohibits the idling of any motor vehicle for over three consecutive minutes Wednesday. Vehicles designed for farming and agricultural are exempt from this bill.

Sen. Ed Meyer, D-Guilford, said the act applies to all cars, but is meant to target trucks and buses who are the worst offenders. He said the average long-haul truck idles approximately 1,800 hours per year, which costs $2,200 in fuel and emits 17 tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The bill’s purpose is to alleviate air pollution, said Meyer.

“Each of us has a responsibility to everything we can do to help make our air clean,” Sen. Edith Prague, D-Columbia, said. She said residents have a responsibility to their children and grandchildren to make the world a cleaner place. 

If police discover a vehicle running for over three minutes, the owner has committed an infraction. The police officer can write a ticket between $25 and $90 and put it on the automobile. Law enforcement does not have to wait until the driver comes back to the car to write the fine. 

The bill includes a large list of exemptions. Taxi cabs are not one of them, unless they are waiting in traffic or taking part in a funeral or wedding ceremony. Ambulances and law enforcement vehicles responding to emergencies are allowed to idle and so are delivery trucks. 

Armed Forces No Longer Have To Be Hands Free

The House of Representatives passed a bill Wednesday that allows members of the Connecticut armed forces, including the National Guard, to hold their cellular phones in their hands while driving to emergency situations.

Rep. Ted Graziani, D-Ellington, said the last thing the state wants is for a convoy operator to pull off the highway to answer a call, especially when their help is needed elsewhere.

Rep. Frank Nicastro, D-Bristol, explained how important the National Guard is to the state of Connecticut.

“The least we can do is allow them to use their cell phones in a case of an emergency,” Nicastro said.

The bill passed 143 to 0.