Fire and Ice
States adopt, tweak idling rules

By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

Years ago when states first began mandating trucks be turned off, they turned a cold shoulder to the needs of drivers. However, that trend has shifted significantly as of late, with newer idling regs warming up to the comfort and health needs of drivers.

State lawmakers in Colorado and Oregon acted this year to set statewide idling standards. Meanwhile, Texas legislators amended the state’s idling rules.

Effective July 1, a new law in Colorado set a statewide idling standard of no more than five minutes per hour. The list of circumstances that exempt truckers from the restriction is lengthy. Valid reasons to idle include situations when idling is necessary to heat or cool a sleeper berth during a rest or sleep period, and at a rest area, truck terminal, or truck stop. An exception for temperatures below 10 degrees also applies.

Another new law in OREGON applies idling rules statewide. As of Jan. 1, 2012, commercial vehicles will be prohibited from idling for more than five minutes each hour on property open to the public. Among the exceptions included are operating air conditioners or heaters during a rest or sleep period when the outside temperature is below 50 degrees or above 75 degrees.

Also, Oregon cities and counties are prohibited from setting up their own rules to regulate truck idling. Unaffected by the new law is the city of Ashland’s idling ordinance. The ordinance is grandfathered.

In addition, TEXAS lawmakers removed the state’s five-minute idling restriction for trucks equipped with a 2008 model year or newer engine that is certified by the EPA. Heavy-duty engines certified by a state environmental agency to emit fewer than 30 grams of NOx per hour also qualify.

Trucks equipped with APUs are also authorized to weigh up to an additional 400 pounds. LL