West Virginia ‘anti-idling’ rules sent to governor

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 3/15/2010

The West Virginia Legislature has given their approval to a rule intended to reduce the frequency of unnecessary idling of trucks.

House lawmakers voted 71-24 Friday, March 12, to advance the bill to Gov. Joe Manchin’s desk. The Senate has already approved the bill – SB183 – which applies to diesel-powered vehicles weighing more than 10,000 pounds. Affected vehicles would be limited to idling for no more than 15 minutes per hour.

If signed into law, it would take effect in mid-June. Violators would face fines between $150 and $300.

Officers with the division of public safety; sheriffs and deputies; municipal police officers; and designated officers of the Public Service Commission would be authorized to enforce the idling rules.

The idling-restriction legislation is nearly identical to the rule implemented about a year ago in Pennsylvania.

As is the case in the Keystone State, affected trucks in West Virginia would be exempted from the time limit rule when temperatures are lower than 40 degrees or higher than 75 degrees. The exception would apply only at locations where trucks are legally permitted to park, including truck terminals, truck stops and rest areas – as long as idle-reduction technology is unavailable.

While loading or unloading, idling would be allowed for up to 15 minutes in a 60-minute period, when necessary.

The temperature exemption would expire May 1, 2012.

Supporters say that excessive truck idling is extremely detrimental to the state’s air quality. They are hopeful the proposed restrictions will make cleaner air more widely available.

A provision in the bill clarifies who is responsible for paying fines. Responsibility for idling violations could be placed on vehicle owners, as well as operators. In addition, owners or operators of locations where vehicles load and unload would also face fines for violations.

Even though drivers who are idling their trucks while sleeping or resting would be exempt from the rule, other concerns need to be addressed, according to the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.

OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer said there needs to be an industry-wide solution to appropriately address idling concerns.

“This is a challenge that requires some involvement and cooperation from all responsible parties,” Spencer told Land Line.

Exceptions to the rule in West Virginia also would include situations when vehicles are stuck in traffic, when required by law enforcement to stop, or when idling is necessary “to operate defrosters, heaters, air conditioners or cargo refrigeration equipment.”

In addition, idling restrictions would not apply to trucks that exhibit a label issued by the California Air Resources Board that shows the vehicle’s engine meets the optional NOx idling emission standard.

One other provision would increase the maximum gross vehicle, axle, tandem or bridge formula weight limits for trucks equipped with idle-reduction technology. Affected trucks would be authorized to weigh up to an additional 400 pounds.

Mike Joyce, OOIDA director of legislative affairs, said that with the new idling limits being pursued in West Virginia it’s important for the state to plan for the availability of incentive programs for small-business truckers to easily purchase idle-reduction technologies.

To view other legislative activities of interest for West Virginia in 2010, click here.
Editor’s Note: Please share your thoughts with us about the legislation included in this story. Comments may be sent to statelegislativedesk@ooida.com.

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