Maine governor signs bill intended to reduce truck idling

| 4/16/2008

A new law in Maine intends to reduce unnecessary idling of commercial vehicles throughout the state. In most instances, drivers idling their trucks while sleeping or resting would be exempt from the rule.

Gov. John Baldacci signed a bill into law Wednesday, April 9, that applies the restrictions to trucks idling for more than five minutes in any 60-minute period. Those same trucks could idle for an additional 10 minutes in any 60-minute period when temperatures are 32 degrees or below. Unlimited idling will be allowed when temperatures are 0 degrees or below.

The new law, previously LD2056, makes Maine the 14th state to adopt statewide idling regulations. It takes effect in July this year.

Rep. Jon Hinck, D-Portland, included a provision that is intended to limit idling while trucks wait to load or unload. Owners of locations served by trucks would be prohibited from causing vehicles to idle for more than 30 minutes while waiting to do business at the location.

Violators of the business restriction would be issued warnings. Repeat offenders would face $500 fines. Truckers in violation of the time rule would be issued warnings. Repeat offenders would face $150 fines.

Supporters say that excessive truck idling is extremely detrimental to the state’s air quality. They are hopeful the restrictions will go a long way in making cleaner air more widely available throughout the state.

Others say the new rule will help save money in fuel costs, as well as reduce wear and tear on engine parts.

Exceptions will be made for situations when vehicles are stuck in traffic or when idling is necessary to operate defrosters, heaters, air conditioners or installing equipment “solely to prevent a safety or health emergency” that is not part of a rest period.

In addition, the idling prohibition will not apply when idling of trucks is necessary for “maintenance, servicing, repair or diagnostic purposes.”

To view other legislative activities of interest for Maine, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor