Although the regulation's been on the books for more than a
year, enforcement officers are now officially cracking down on idling trucks in
Since Sept. 1, the enforcement division of the state's
Department of Natural Resources has been watching for trucks idling for more
than three minutes. The move is in accordance with a regulation that passed
into law in April 2005, which prohibits most heavy-duty vehicles from excessive
regulation, drivers of vehicles with gross vehicle weights of 8,500 pounds or
more are allowed to idle for a maximum of three minutes. Violators face fines
of $50 to $500 for a first offense, and $500 to $1,500 for all subsequent
The new rules
exempt vehicles that are idling to provide heat to the occupant and sets the
allowed temperature range between minus 10 and 32 F. The rule specifies in that
range, an engine may idle for up to 15 consecutive minutes.
However, if it's
real cold, idling during a trucker's sleep time trumps the regs, said Phil
Wheeler, Planner for Air Quality Management.
"We know that
having fatigued drivers out there on the road is bad, so when they need heat to
sleep, that takes precedence over everything," Wheeler said.
If it is colder
than minus 10 F, the driver can idle the engine.
"If it's less than
minus ten, you can keep the engine running. However, if that idling causes a
complaint, causes a nuisance, we might ask the trucker to turn his engine off,"
Wheeler said, adding that Delaware has not seen "minus 10" in years.
As far as a high
end on temperature restrictions, Wheeler told Land Line Magazine that the
state did not set a rule that would allow idling if it were, say, 90 F or so.
keeping warm during cold weather was the main thing," he said.
The new rule
exempts any vehicle using auxiliary power for equipment to perform the intended
operation of the vehicle, including, by way of example, a power take off
generator for any utility truck; or any vehicle idling for the "necessary power
for a heater, air conditioner, or any ancillary equipment during sleeping or
resting in a sleeper berth such that the vehicle's location is not within 25
miles of a parking facility with available truck stop electrification
equipment, either shore power or an advance system that is approved by the
Department including meeting all compatibility requirements with existing
onboard truck shore power equipment."
situations and traffic standstills are also on the exemption list, as well as a
repair situation, during a routine inspection and any situation where it is
necessary to bring the on-road heavy duty vehicle to the manufacturer's recommended
are exempt from the regulation, plus military vehicles engaged in training.
There are some exemptions for school buses, too
Kurt Reuther, chief of environmental enforcement for the
state's DNR, said that since the regulation's passage last year, his department
has been working to educate the trucking industry on the new rules.
"We've been working behind the scenes, doing outreach with a
variety of different trucking firms and people in that industry, letting them
know that we'd be starting this," Reuther told Land Line.
Unlike many anti-idling regulations, which place the burden
of enforcement on the state police, Delaware's enforcement is being handled
almost entirely by the DNR. And, according to Reuther, his department will be
actively looking for offending trucks, as well as taking complaint calls from
the public via a hot line number.
"We have a force of environmental protection officers that
work out in a variety of areas throughout the state of Delaware," he said.
"They'll be keeping an eye out for anti-idling violations."
Reuther said the state police are also allowed to issue
citations for the regulation, but said he was unaware of a similar enforcement
push by them.
And as for the question of whether idling enforcement can
ever be truly and thoroughly enforced, he said the number of trucks and truck
parking facilities in the state will make it a relatively simple process.
"It would actually be somewhat easy for one of the
environmental protection officers to basically just go watch," Reuther said.
"Watch the activities, watch the areas where the trucks do their business, and
if they don't meet any of the exemptions and are idling for greater than that
three-minute timeline, then it's really just a matter of observing it and
issuing the criminal summons from there."
- By Land Line staff