Texas governor stalls idling regs by signing bill into law

| 6/22/2005

Gov. Rick Perry signed a bill June 17 to override some idling rules in Texas. The new law takes effect Sept. 1.

It allows 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 new rule, previously HB1540, also 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.

It overrides a recent Texas Commission on Environmental Quality ruling permitting cities to opt into a rule that outlaws idling for more than five minutes for any reason in a truck.

“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,” Rep. Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, said during a recent hearing on his bill. “That’s why idling would be necessary to work with them on that.”

Existing 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.

The new rule does not change that.

It also 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.