The Idling Problem at St. Ed’s


Among parking related issues at St. Edward High School, including having limited spots or a labyrinthine lot for students to park in, perhaps the most pervasive and unspoken problem at the school is the abundance of students sitting in their cars parked in the lot with their engines on. Especially since the addition of the Enrichment Period, other students and I have observed an increase in idling, where students can spend the time waiting for their first class at 8:45 in their cars. 

The main problem with idling, as I see it, is the increase of unnecessary carbon emissions. Idling “releases harmful chemicals, gasses and particle pollution (“soot”) into the air, contributing to ozone, regional haze, and global climate change” (North Carolina Environmental Quality). Idling, obviously, harms the environment because of the emissions cars produce, especially considering that idling students are not using their cars to drive when they are parked. Additionally, as the engines of the idling cars are not being used to drive, they can become damaged or weakened. If you run a car without driving, the engine can lose efficiency and dependability. Idling for ten minutes every day could possibly cause significant detriment to a student’s car, depending on how much they drive it outside of school or the model. reports that “running the car over time causes deterioration of the head gasket, spark plugs, and cylinder rings”. Keeping the car air conditioning and sound system of a car on without driving it is bad both for the car, and for the environment. Also, by idling in the school lot, it makes the school seem like they either don’t care about their belongings, or they don’t care about the environment. Idling is a problem at the school that must be solved.

Two alternatives to idling could be:

  • Putting your car on accessories mode

Accessories mode turns off your engine without turning off your radio, and in some cars, the air conditioning. Accessories mode still gives you the comfort of your car without burning gas or oil. 


  • Going inside

The school building hosts several different areas to hang out before class. The Commons, the Lowe Center, or even an empty classroom can give you the same opportunity to relax in the morning before school starts.

Overall, there are several different options that students have that are different from idling in their cars. Because of the impact it has on the environment and the look it gives the school, idling needs to stop. If students truly care about the environment and their school, they would put an end to the practice of idling. As a school community, we need to get our act together when it comes to how we act not only inside the building or out of the school property, but in the parking lot. 



Special Thanks:

  • Jostahn Kuehner ‘23