California idling limits now in effect

| 2/2/2005

Enforcement of a five-minute idling restriction started in California Feb. 1.

The California Air Resources Board announced it had started enforcing the restriction, which applies to many, but not all trucks in the state.

The new rule will be enforced primarily by CARB diesel truck inspectors, but local law enforcement agencies and the California Highway Patrol can also issue citations. According to CARB, the agency’s inspectors will inspect smoking trucks and buses for tampering and bad engine maintenance that can increase emissions.

The idling rule will be enforced on any truck operating within the state’s borders, regardless of where it is base plated, the agency said.

The board voted in July 2004 to restrict most diesel engine idling in the state. At that time, it also allowed a number of exceptions, and delayed the effective date for many rules affecting trucks with sleeper berths until 2009.

Until then, any trucker in a vehicle with a sleeper berth may idle if that trucker is taking a rest period required under the hours-of-service regulations, Jerry Martin, a spokesman for the air board, told Land Line.

However, all trucks will be subject to some restrictions. For example, all trucks will be restricted to five minutes of idling if they are within 100 feet of a residence. Truckers who violate that part of the rule could face a $100 fine per violation.

More than 400,000 heavy-duty diesel trucks and buses are registered in California, according to a statement from the air board, and the idling restrictions could reduce consumption of diesel in the state by a million gallons a week.

The board did delay action on some sleeper berth rules to give the agency’s staff time to examine some of the new technologies being offered as an alternative to idling, Martin said.

Meanwhile, sleeper berth-equipped trucks still face some restrictions.

“You’re driving a truck with a sleeper berth, you pull over and go to sleep for 10 hours, that’s fine,” he said. “But when you pull up to Joe’s Sandwich Shop, and you leave your truck running for an hour while you eat, that’s not fine.”

In that situation, “you’re going to get treated like any other truck that’s not allowed to idle more than five minutes.”

– By Mark H. Reddig, associate editor