Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Keep idling fine high at filling stations

Kudos to the Ketchum Police Department for its diplomatic approach in asking the City Council to reduce the stiff $100 to $300 vehicle idling fines. I was wondering why I hadn't heard about any motorists being actually penalized yet, and was impressed when I heard this appeal. While the City Council may compromise on this, I would like to suggest that there is at least one sector where it should keep the fine as high as it is, or perhaps even increase it: That area is right at our local gas pumps.

Since the wintry weather has set in, I have witnessed several motorists filling their gas tanks without turning off their engines! Curious about this, I asked some local station attendants about how frequently they see this, and was told that it is occurring on a daily basis. I'm wondering if the motorists who fill their gas tanks with engines running realize how dangerous this is, because the results could be quite terrifying.

Unlike the idling ordinance, which I find posted nowhere in town, clear warnings are highlighted on the front of every gas pump to shut off the engine before filling your tank. However, with dozens of motorists in the valley apparently ignoring this basic safety tenet every week, the odds have increased for a simple bit of static electricity to cause a tragic event. If people are not fined for this, I believe that it is at least a concern, and the City Council should ask our Police and Fire Department leaders to refocus vigorous educational warnings on dangerous idling engines.

Jim Banholzer


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