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May 13, 2011

American Idle

Traffic cops were required for the opening of a new In-N-Out burger restaurant in Texas this week. The video is pretty incredible. Watching it prompted me to dig out an old column by Mr. Green, Sierra magazine's answer man:

In drive-throughs or anyplace, idling is, to summon the old saying, the devil's workshop. Every hour you idle, you waste up to 0.7 gallons of gas (depending on your engine type) going nowhere. So it pays to turn your engine off if you're going to be still for more than 30 seconds.

In a given year, U.S. cars burn some 1.4 billion gallons of fuel just idling. Not to mention idling trucks, which waste another 1.5 billion gallons. Collectively, we emit about 58 million tons of carbon dioxide while we're essentially doing nothing.

Taking the fast-food industry as an example, and taking into account that the average McDonald's drive-through wait is 159 seconds, we can calculate that the company's consumers burn some 7.25 million gallons of gas each year. The figure for the entire U.S. fast-food industry? Roughly 50 million gallons.

It's safe to say the drivers in this video are waiting a tad more than 159 seconds for their burger and fries.

(video via consumerist.)

-- Brian Foley

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