States offer more leeway on APU weights

By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

While states may continue their idling restrictions, more and more states are allowing for the weight that auxiliary power units added to trucks.

State lawmakers in Florida and Maryland acted this year to boost the incentive for truckers to avoid idling.

States were given the ability in 2005 to allow heavy-duty trucks to exceed the 80,000-pound maximum weight limit to encourage the use of idling-reduction equipment.

In recent years many states have adopted rules to increase the weight limits for trucks equipped with auxiliary power units up to an additional 400 pounds.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 30 states have laws that authorize the weight allowance for commercial vehicles. There are 15 states where the weight allowance is granted by enforcement policy rather than by state law.

States yet to permit the 400-pound exemption are California, Hawaii, Kentucky, North Carolina and Rhode Island. The weight allowance doesn’t affect state highway funding eligibility.

The 2012 federal transportation law included a provision to allow states to increase their APU weight exemption another 150 pounds to 550 pounds. The change was sought to accommodate newer technologies available for truckers that consume less fuel, but weigh more.

Nine states have acted to authorize APU exemptions up to 550 pounds. The states are Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, Tennessee and Virginia. The Florida exemption took effect July 1. Maryland’s rule is set to take effect Oct. 1.

In Massachusetts, a bill that could come up for consideration would put into statute that commercial vehicles can weigh an additional 400 pounds to accommodate APUs. Currently, the state grants the additional weight through enforcement policy.

A separate effort in the Bay State would revise the state’s idling restriction law. Allowable idling times for all vehicles would be lowered from five minutes to two minutes.

Exceptions to the rule are authorized for heating or cooling a vehicle to help ensure the driver’s safety. Additional exceptions are made for vehicles, including refrigerator units on trucks with perishable goods and vehicles operating special equipment, such as a lift. LL