Rebecca Bernard
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Puffer Week in Colorado Is All About Idling Cars

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car door frozen shut ice winter handle hand grab
Photo: The News Wheel

When I saw that this week in Colorado was being called “Puffer Week,” you can imagine where my mind went. You might know the state is famous for a particular kind of smoke, but Puffer Week is actually about another source of exhaust — idling cars.

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I have a big question for the state of Colorado: Do you really call idling cars puffers, or is it a hot new term the police rolled out?

Colorado — like much of the United States — is deep in winter right now. That means you might be tempted to head out and start the car before you leave so it has time to warm up the cabin before you head out on the roads. While that’s a great idea for comfort’s sake, idling cars that don’t have a remote start is actually against the law in the Centennial State.

When talking to Makenzie O’Keefe of CBS Denver, Aurora Police Officer Michael Iovine says that leaving cars on and unattended isn’t illegal because the government wants you to freeze in your cars. Instead, it’s because these vehicles become targets of crime. Usually, you have to leave the car keys inside for it to stay running, either because your push-button start has a proximity sensor or because the key is actually in the ignition. That makes it easy for car thieves to slide in behind the wheel of your ride and take off.

Last year criminals got away with about 20,000 cars, and the police estimate it can take as little as 10 seconds to get away. I’m sure you would rather need a scarf and hat as you start your commute than be stranded without a vehicle at all.

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As of yesterday, police in Aurora had already talked to more than 100 puffers, issuing eight tickets and 77 warnings. Officer Iovine also clarified and said that cars with remote starts aren’t puffers and are totally legal since the vehicle’s keys are not in the cabin.

Be honest, are you a puffer? Consider the danger you’re putting your big automotive investment in before you leave your running car unattended.