A bill that would override some five-minute idling rules in
Texas has passed the state Senate.
Senators voted 29-1 May 16 to advance the bill that would
allow truckers to idle their rigs during HOS-mandated rest periods until
September 2007. This date corresponds with stringent diesel emission reductions
slated to start at that time.
The bill prohibits and limits adoption or enforcement of
rules that ban trucks and other vehicles from idling when necessary to power a
heater or air conditioner while a driver is using the vehicle’s sleeper berth
for a mandated rest period.
HB1540 has been sent back to the House for approval of
changes before heading to Gov. Rick Perry.
If signed into law, it would override a recent Texas
Commission on Environmental Quality ruling that allows cities to opt into a
rule that outlaws any idling for more than five minutes for any reason in a
“Federal and state law requires 18-wheelers to pull over and
rest. It would be putting them in a very bad predicament to tell them they must
meet federal and state laws on the number of hours they can drive without
resting but then not allow them to take that rest without any air conditioning
running, which would usually be the case in Texas, and on rare occasions, the
heater running,” Dennis Bonnen, the bill’s sponsor, said during a recent
hearing on his bill. “That’s why idling would be necessary to work with them on
Current state law prohibits idling for longer than five
minutes from April 1 to Oct. 31 in Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston,
Harris, Liberty, Montgomery and Waller counties.
Bonnen’s bill would not change that.
An amendment added by Bonnen, R-Angleton, would add a
two-year sunset to the measure to correspond with stringent diesel emission
reductions slated to start in September of 2007.
Despite Bonnen’s call to sunset the bill in two years, he
said the issue is still important “because we must ensure truckers are able to
make their mandatory rest required by federal and state law.”
He went on to say the bill “may also bridge the time until
new technologies to provide heat and cooling without idling are more readily
Another provision added to the bill prohibits idling while
using a vehicle’s sleeper berth within 1,000 feet of a public school while
class is in session. Violators could be fined up to $500.