Idling restriction sought in Michigan; other states take action

| Tuesday, September 19, 2006

A bill in the Michigan Senate is intended to reduce unnecessary idling of large trucks in the state. In most instances, drivers idling their trucks while sleeping or resting would be exempt from the rule.

Sponsored by Sen. Ray Basham, D-Taylor, the bill would prohibit diesel-powered vehicles with gross vehicle weights of more than 8,000 pounds from stationary idling for more than 10 minutes per hour in areas that include Detroit and Ann Arbor.

Exemptions would include situations when vehicles are stuck in traffic, required by law enforcement to stop or when idling is necessary “to operate defrosters, heaters, air conditioners, or other equipment solely to prevent a safety or health emergency.”

The operation of auxiliary power units needed to load, unload, mix or process cargo, and control cargo temperature are among the activities that are not included in the restriction.

The idling rule would be waived when temperatures are less than 32 degrees or higher than 80 degrees.

Basham’s bill – SB1406 – is in the Senate Transportation Committee.

Michigan isn’t the only state this year to pursue idling restrictions for large trucks.

Illinois has new law
Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed a similar bill into law this summer. The new law prohibits stationary idling longer than 10 minutes per hour in areas that include Chicago and East St. Louis, IL. It took effect July 1.

While waiting to weigh, load or unload cargo or freight, truckers will have their idling limited to no more than 30 minutes per hour, “unless they are in a line of vehicles that regularly and periodically moves forward.”

The idling rule will be waived when temperatures are less than 32 degrees or higher than 80 degrees. Truckers will also be allowed to operate defrosters, heaters, air conditioners, or other equipment necessary “to prevent a safety or health emergency.”

The idling prohibition will not apply when idling of trucks is required “to operate auxiliary equipment to accomplish the intended use of the vehicle.” Examples specifically cited in the bill include “loading, unloading, mixing, or processing cargo; controlling cargo temperature, construction operations; lumbering operations; oil and gas well servicing or farming operations.”

Rhode Island takes action
In Rhode Island, truck drivers soon will be prohibited from idling their engines for more than five consecutive minutes in any 60-minute period.

The state Department of Environmental Management will have until July 1, 2007, to develop regulations to limit idling. Violators will face up to $100 fines. Subsequent violations will result in up to $500 fines.

Exemptions include 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 new law also clarifies that auxiliary power units and vehicles delivering fuel or energy products are not included in the restriction.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor
keith_goble@landlinemag.com

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