Colorado bill would impose idling restriction

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 4/28/2011

The city and county of Denver now limit idling to 10 minutes each hour.

The Senate Transportation Committee voted to advance a bill to the full Senate that would set a statewide idling standard for commercial vehicles weighing in excess of 14,000 pounds. If approved there, the bill would head back to the House for approval of changes before moving to the governor’s desk.

Affected vehicles would be limited to idling for no more than five minutes per hour.

The bill – HB1275 – would also permit local authorities to adopt an idling standard if it is not more stringent.

Supporters say the restriction is needed because excessive truck idling is extremely detrimental to the state’s air quality, and costs business more money. The proposed restriction is touted as going a long way in making cleaner air more widely available.

Violators would face fines of up to $150. Repeat offenses could result in up to $500 fines.

Owner-operator and OOIDA Life Member Jack McComb of Littleton, CO, said enforcement of idling restrictions is tricky.

“An officer should understand that if it is cool or it’s hot and they knock on the door to tell the driver not to idle, they’ve disrupted his 10 hours of rest. If you talk to the cop, you have to restart your hours of rest,” he said.

The list of circumstances that would exempt truckers in Colorado from the restriction is lengthy. Valid reasons to idle would include situations when vehicles are stuck in traffic; when idling is necessary to heat or cool a sleeper berth during a rest or sleep period; and at a rest area, truck terminal, truck stop, or “state-designated location designed to be a driver’s rest area.”

Truckers would also be exempt from the restriction while parked at a location where the vehicle is legally permitted to park, as long as it is located at least 1,000 feet from housing, a school, a daycare or a hospital.

Exceptions for cold temperatures would kick in when the thermostat dips below 10 degrees or if the temperature has been below 20 degrees for the past 24 hours.

Fine revenue would be distributed between the state’s highway fund (65 percent), counties (26 percent) and cities (9 percent).

OOIDA leadership encourages Colorado truckers to make their voices heard with lawmakers about the issue.

Another bill nearing passage at the statehouse addresses permits for excess size and weight vehicles.

Currently, an overweight vehicle permit in Colorado may be issued for a vehicle with a trailer or semitrailer with a tandem or triple axle grouping as long as the combined vehicle weight does not exceed 97,000 pounds.

The Senate Transportation Committee voted to advance a bill for further consideration that changes the rule to specify that the trailer may have two or three axles, rather than a tandem or triple axle grouping.

If approved by the full Senate, the bill – HB1279 – would move to the governor’s desk. House lawmakers already approved it.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Colorado, click here.

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