Pennsylvania may limit idling statewide; Massachusetts pursues effort

| Monday, June 25, 2007

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

Idling rules already are in place in Allegheny County and the city of Philadelphia. Rep. Will Gabig, R-Carlisle, has offered a bill that would apply to all locations where diesel-powered vehicles load, unload or park. The restriction would apply to trucks idling for more than 5 minutes in any 60-minute period. Those same trucks could idle for up to 20 minutes in any 60-minute period when temperatures are lower than 40 degrees or higher than 80 degrees.

Gabig said that excessive truck idling is extremely detrimental to the state’s air quality. He said he is hopeful the proposed restrictions would go a long way in making cleaner air more widely available throughout the state.

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 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” is not included in the restriction.

Gabig’s bill – HB1113 – is in the House Transportation Committee.

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

Massachusetts pursues revisions to law
A bill in Massachusetts would alter the state’s rules on the idling of all vehicles.

Sponsored by Rep. Frank Smizik, D-Brookline, the bill would hold owners and operators of vehicles liable for idling violations. It is in the Joint Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Committee

Massachusetts law now limits vehicle idling to no longer than five minutes in any 60-minute period. First-time offenders face minimum $100 fines. Subsequent offenses could result in up to $500 fines.

The bill – H866 – would add exceptions to state law for 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 installing other equipment “solely to prevent a safety or health emergency.”

Drivers idling their trucks while sleeping or resting also would be exempt from the rule.

In addition, the idling prohibition would not apply when idling of trucks “is necessary to power work-related mechanical or electrical operations other than propulsion.” Examples cited in the bill are “mixing or processing cargo or straight truck refrigeration.”

The bill also clarifies that operating auxiliary power units is not included in the restriction.

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

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