Japanese car companies have been loss-leaders in this field, fighting a lot of battles since the 1970s. I guess the car business is just that kind of game. You can't win, they are destroying our towns and cities and no matter what kind of sense or reason, the car is the rule.
Getting back to idling, why did not the Japanese ideas back in the 1970s to save gasoline catch on?
Popular Science (1974): Automatic On/Off Switch Gives 10% Gas Saving
Interesting to note that the writer was aware of "CO" emissions back in 1974, and the need to keep them as low as possible.
The car industry, however, is less interested in such stuff. Over 30,000 deaths each year in the US, and how many injured and handicapped for life, each year? Is there any other such force that makes a profit from killing a lot of people?
Half of all road traffic deaths are among pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists, and young adults aged between 15 and 44 years account for 59% of deaths.
Bloomberg: American Gun Deaths to Exceed Traffic Fatalities by 2015
Do take a look at that graph. Gun deaths is something the US is infamous for. Much worse, really, is the case if you compare to auto fatalities. Look at 30 years ago, the US had some 40,000-50,000 people dead in car related accidents. Now it is down to 30,000-35,000. Annually, still worse than gun-related deaths.
I can find relevant statistics for Japan from 2009: 4,914 deaths.
It is easier to compare if we break it down to deaths per capita:
US: 33,000 deaths for a population of 313,000,000
Japan: 4,900 deaths for a population of 120,000,00
Sweden: 270 deaths for a population of 9,000,00
Five years ago, The Japan Times noted:
In Tokyo, and many other parts of Japan, it’s illegal to leave your motor running when parked, and the law applies not only to taxis but also to trucks, buses and regular passenger cars. The idea is to protect the environment by reducing carbon-dioxide emissions, but as you pointed out, idling also wastes energy and creates heat and noise — the last thing we urban dwellers need, especially in these hot summer months.
How can we get the rules to stick?