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Most (if not all) of us do it. As a matter of fact, many of us have been doing it for years—ever since we first learned to drive a car—and have no intention of quitting even though it’s illegal in many states. Are you guilty of doing it? When the temperature outside drops turning your car into an icicle, do you run outside,start it up, and then head back inside leaving the engine to idle until the interior is toasty warm? Well, some people call the practice “puffing”—so named because of the telltale exhaust that puffs out of the back of the car into the frigid air—and it actually is illegal in the state of Texas!

Leaving a vehicle unattended with the keys still in the ignition—whether it’s running or not—is a violation of the Texas Transportation Code; a Class C misdemeanor with a fine of up to $500. That’s a lot of money just to eliminate a few minutes of teeth-chattering! Even if your car is sitting in your driveway, on your own property, a police officer can write you a ticket on the spot. Why would Texas—and 30 other states—have what appears to be such a silly (and intrusive)law?

There are actually some very good reasons for anti-puffing laws. First, leaving your car idling with the keys in it isn’t just an invitation for a police officer to write you a ticket, it’s an invitation for a car thief to steal it! With the car already idling, it can take just seconds for someone to jump in and drive away. Search and recovery of your stolen car takes officers away from other police work and ties up already limited resources. In some cases, if your car is stolen because it is left idling, there can be civil and even criminal liability. In addition, if you try to file a claim with your insurance company,it may be denied leaving you with no car and no resources for a new one! Think the odds aren’t high that your idling car will be stolen? Out of the top five states for stolen vehicles with keys inside them, Texas is number 2!

Second, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is concerned about puffing’s effect on global warming, and though the agency itself hasn’t started issuing fines,it is issuing warnings about the practice’s impact on fuel economy and the environment. Though there is some debate about the EPA’s contentions—General Motors recently issued a press release that claimed pre-warming your car actually reduces pollutants because engines are designed to trap unburned hydrocarbons only after they’re warm—we should all think twice about the possible danger of putting any extra pollutants in the air.

So, next time you decide to dash outside to pre-warm your car before getting in it,please consider the risks. Here at Accident and Injury Chiropractic, we don’t just want you to be protected while driving this winter, we want you to be protected before you even get in the car!

And if you’ve been injured in an auto accident, please get your pain treated today at Accident & Injury Chiropractic. Call us or fill out the form to the right and one of our staff will get you picked up (during normal business hours) and on your way back to normal.