Rhode Island Senate OKs idling restriction

| 7/6/2006

A bill that is intended to reduce unnecessary idling of large trucks has passed the Rhode Island Senate. The measure, which passed the House in May, now heads to Gov. Donald Carcieri’s desk.

The bill would prohibit truck drivers from idling their engines for more than five consecutive minutes in any 60-minute period.

Rep. Raymond Sullivan Jr., D-Coventry, said the bill is meant to reduce smog and cut back on pollutants that have been linked to health problems, including asthma.

The measure would give the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management until July 1, 2007, to develop regulations to limit idling. The restriction would apply only to diesel engines.

Violators would pay up to $100 fines. Subsequent violations would result in up to $500 fines.

Among the exemptions that would apply are for situations when vehicles are stuck in traffic, required by law enforcement to stop or “when it is necessary to operate defrosting, heating, or cooling equipment to ensure the health or safety of the driver or passengers or to operate auxiliary equipment; when it is necessary to bring the engine to the manufacturer’s recommended operating temperature or when the engine is undergoing maintenance or inspection.”

The bill – H7756 – also clarifies that auxiliary power units and vehicles delivering fuel or energy products are not included in the restriction.

Sullivan said his bill is about common sense.

“There isn’t any benefit to letting an engine run unnecessarily. It wastes fuel and money, creates pollution and wears down your engine,” Sullivan said in a written statement. “I would hope that people would choose on their own to protect the environment, but it would be helpful to have a law to make people understand the importance of this issue.”