In New York City, it’s generally against traffic rules to leave your engine idling, but there are a few details that it pays to know to avoid getting an unnecessary ticket.
Engine idling means that you are running your vehicle’s engine while it’s not in motion. Gas-burning engines produce pollutants that enter the atmosphere while running. These pollutants not only damage the environment, but also cause both acute and chronic harm to the human body. As a result, many governments require that engines be turned off on vehicles that are stopped for an extended period of time for the safety of their citizens.
In New York City, unless you are operating an emergency vehicle, idling for longer than 3 minutes is prohibited. The only case in which idling for longer is allowed is that in which the engine must be running to operate a loading, unloading, or processing device.
With the health of our children in mind, idling rules near schools are even more strict. As per the New York City Department of Transportation Traffic Rulebook:
No person shall cause or permit the engine of any vehicle, other than an authorized emergency vehicle, to idle for longer than one minute if the vehicle is next to a school, while parking, standing or stopping, unless the engine is being used to operate a loading, unloading or processing device…
Schoolbuses, however, may idle for longer than 1 minute for the purpose of repair, emergency wheelchair lift use, or to maintain passenger comfort.