Pennsylvania bill to limit idling dies; Michigan bill remains active

| Tuesday, December 05, 2006

A bill that was introduced just weeks before the end of the regular session in Pennsylvania to reduce unnecessary idling of large trucks in the state has died.

Sponsored by Rep. Will Gabig, R-Carlisle, the bill remained in the House Transportation Committee last month when lawmakers went home for the year.

The bill - HB3079 - would have applied to locations where diesel-powered vehicles load, unload or park. The restriction would have applied to trucks idling for more than 5 minutes in any 60-minute period. Those same trucks could have idled for up to 20 minutes in any 60-minute period when temperatures are lower than 40 degrees or higher than 80 degrees.

Gabig said the rule change is needed because "excessive truck idling is extremely detrimental to the air quality in Pennsylvania."

In most instances, drivers idling their trucks while sleeping or resting would have been exempt from the rule. Other exemptions would have included situations when vehicles are stuck in traffic, required by law enforcement to stop or when idling is necessary "to operate defrosters, heaters or refrigeration to prevent a safety or health emergency" that is not part of a rest period.

The operation of auxiliary power units, generator sets or "other mobile idle reduction technology" was not included in the restriction.

Pennsylvania isn't the only state this year to pursue idling restrictions for large trucks. Lawmakers in Illinois and Rhode Island approved idling limits while lawmakers in Michigan continue to discuss a similar rule.

A bill in the Michigan Senate Transportation Committee 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.

The bill - SB1406 - would authorize exemptions for situations that include 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.

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

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