In the midst of a bitter cold spell Metro Councilman Buddy Baker has filed an ordinance that would allow drivers –– albeit, those who use remote starting devices –– to leave parked, locked and running automobiles unattended as they warm up their vehicles.
The bill, co-sponsored by Councilman Duane Dominy, is scheduled for first reading at Tuesday’s Metro Council meeting.
Efforts to enable drivers warm up their cars during cold days –– which violates Metro’s current law –– began last February when Councilman Michael Craddock learned Metro Police had ticketed one of his Madison constituents for leaving her car running as she waited inside her house.
The mere existence of the law was news to lawmakers like Craddock, who promptly filed legislation that would have let all vehicles on private property remain idle while unattended when temperatures reach 40 degrees or less. The bill never made it past first reading, however, as it was deferred indefinitely at the recommendation of the Council’s Public Safety-Beer and Regulated Beverages Committee.
Unlike the bill that failed earlier this year, Baker’s ordinance would grant car-warming ability to those with a remote starting device, a portable instrument –– often attached to a keychain –– that utilizes a pulse signal to start a vehicle’s engine, allowing a car to run without inserting a key in the ignition.
Remote starting systems operate independent of the automobile’s circuitry, using only the car’s battery via the cigarette lighter as a power source. Once the driver enters the vehicle, a key is then inserted into the ignition to drive the automobile.
Baker, who represents parts of West Nashville, said he was also alerted to the Metro law after learning of the incident in Craddock’s district and believes vehicles with remote starting devices should be exempt from it.
“I’ve had several remote starts on the last few cars that I’ve had,” Baker said. “You can start it from inside (your house) and if someone tries to break into the car to steal it, and they try to put it in gear, everything shuts down.
“I don’t have any reason to believe this shouldn’t be approved,” he said.