I commend Don Loprieno for writing a comprehensive, thoughtful and patient letter reminding motorists to shut off their engines when parked. I have written about this several times over recent years, and as a professional automobile mechanic for 45 years this issue is a real pet peeve for me. Essentially, an internal combustion engine is a pump which draws in oxygen, creates torque and heat and then expels toxic chemicals which are inevitably destroying natural ecosystems. If the engine is producing useful work, there is some negligible benefit. If the engine is simply idling, it’s only wasting resources needlessly and polluting our planet.

I’ve asked many people why they leave engines idling, and am astonished to hear that drivers somehow believe this is more efficient than shutting down and starting up again later. I also hear other responses which can’t be printed, but that’s another story. Some people, who drive ridiculously large and loud trucks, just like to make noise.

Sadly, I’ve finally concluded that most of us simply don’t care how we affect the planet or each other. We can try and regulate this wasteful practice by posting more parking areas as “no idle zones,” however this relies on individual observation and concern and is therefore almost certainly useless. The only way this will ever be addressed is through start/stop technology in which the engine shuts off automatically at stops, then restarts when the driver presses the accelerator. It’s elegant technology and is used in most hybrids and a few conventional drive cars. It’s fairly common in European cars.

I suggest we contact our representatives and lobby for this innovation to be mandatory in all automobiles and trucks. I don’t necessarily favor ever more regulation, the “nanny state” as some will say, but since we apparently don’t have enough sense to be responsible and proactive in using our toys, legislation is the only way forward.

John Shepard, Union