Like most people, I get particularly annoyed with government waste. And though what falls in this category is often determined by our own political ideology, there are some instances where it doesn’t apply. Gasoline wasted on idling public vehicles, such as police cruisers, is one of them. Not more than a couple years ago, I remember seeing this exact situation unfold. I was at a gas station in Florida with a flat tire while an empty police cruiser idled for over half an hour. It wasn’t that big of a deal, but the cumulative impact of idling, necessary or not, stuck in my head.
This is why I was excited to read a Department of Energy article talking about the Less Idling Time (LIT) package being applied to 27 Tallahassee police cars. Developed by Jon Cook, a technician for the City of Tallahassee, the LIT package uses a custom battery pack that allows police cruisers to run lights, air conditioning, and other essential components while the engine is off. The concept isn’t mind blowing, but it’s apparently novel enough that the city is applying to patent the process. Parts and labor for the system were funded with just $85,000 of a one-time $1.7 million Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant from the federal government.
Systems like LIT make the most sense in public vehicles. Tallahassee city officials estimate that police cruisers spend on average two hours idling during each eight hour shift. Based on gas savings alone, it is projected that the $4,000 LIT package will pay for itself in just two years. Cruisers fitted with the package are also likely to see maintenance savings due to less mechanical wear and tear and fewer battery replacements. During Florida summers, it will cut down on engines overheating since the system can operate the AC independently. Together, these benefits are expected to further reduce costs by lengthening the average lifespan of police fleets. Click here to see a video and learn more about Tallahassee’s green fleet.