Pennsylvania State transportation committee eyes idling ban

| 4/10/2008

Pennsylvania’s proposed idling ban unfairly burdens truck operators rather than truck owners, an OOIDA representative testified to the Pennsylvania Transportation Committee.

The Pennsylvania House Transportation Committee had a hearing to consider a statewide idling law on Thursday, April 10.

Pennsylvania SB295 would limit idling of trucks, school buses and transit buses to five minutes per hour, unless the truck has a sleeper berth and idling is used to heat or cool the cab when outside temperatures are below 40 degrees or above 75 degrees.

First-time offenders would be fined $50, while subsequent fines could range from $50 to $150.

Mike Joyce, OOIDA’s senior government affairs representative and a Pennsylvania native, told committee members the bill unfairly places the burden for fine violations on truck operators when operators often are driving trucks equipped solely by motor carriers.

“Pennsylvania law should provide for placing accountability where it belongs when enforcing anti-idling restrictions – the vehicle owner/motor carrier,” Joyce said. “Simply going after the driver will not raise the level of compliance sought – not in Pennsylvania nor in jurisdictions throughout the U.S. with similar laws. OOIDA strongly urges that the bill specifically place responsibility for violations upon the vehicle owner.”

Instead, OOIDA believes states pursuing idling laws should look to the Environmental Protection Agency’s model legislation, so truckers don’t deal with a “patchwork of fines and rules” throughout the United States, Joyce said.

OOIDA Member Kris Kane testified about the limitations owner operators face when using plug-in systems like IdleAire, Joyce said.

Trucks with 2008 model year engines that meet the California Air Resources Board’s clean idling standard would be exempt from the idling regulation, but Pennsylvania’s bill would exempt 2007 trucks as well.

The Pennsylvania Motor Trucking Association worked closely with legislators who crafted the anti-idling law, Joyce said, which may explain why the law exempts purchasers of the newest technologies.

“PMTA had a heavy hand in drafting this law,” Joyce said.

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer