Wheels of Justice
California Begins to Enforce Anti-Idling Rule
The California Air Resources Board (ARB), a department of the California Environmental Protection Agency, be-gan enforcing the new truck idling rule on Feb. 1. Drivers need to use caution when idling in California or face the fines issued by the local law enforcement, California Highway Patrol or even the ARB diesel truck inspectors. The inspectors normally check smoking trucks for tampering and engine maintenance issues that increase emissions, but will now go after idling trucks.
The new regulation affects all operators of diesel-fueled commercial motor vehicles that weigh more than 10,000 pounds while operating in California. Drivers are subject to a minimum civil penalty of $100 and to criminal penalties as specified in the Health and Safety Code and the Vehicle Code.
Under the new law, trucks are considered to be idling when the engine is running and the vehicle is not moving. Drivers may not idle their engines for longer than five minutes. This especially applies to drivers when idling within 100 feet of a restricted area. The law defines a restricted area as “any real property zoned for individual or multifamily housing units that has one or more of such units on it.” Simply put, a “restricted area” would be a location where any type of home or dwel-ling exists. Additionally, truck idling is also restricted to five minutes when within 100 feet of schools.
Reducing your idling time is not necessarily a bad idea. It saves fuel and wear and tear on the engine while reducing the amount of particulate matter going into the air. Company drivers will make their carriers happy, and owner operators will add money to their bottom line by reducing their idling time. I expect more and more states to jump on the five-minute idling laws, which will lower the price of the auxiliary power units for cab temperature control.
Exceptions to the rule include buses idling to pick up passengers, truck idling to provide heat or a/c in a sleeper berth and idling on the road due to traffic or unsafe weather conditions.
If travel to California is in your future, you should become more familiar with the new rule. Additional information about the new rule is available from Jerry Martin or Gennet Paauwe at (916) 322-2990 or www.arb.ca.gov.
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Jim C. Klepper is president of Interstate Trucker Ltd., an organization providing legal defense protection to commercial drivers. Jim is a lawyer who focuses on transportation law and the trucking industry in particular. He works to answer your legal questions about trucking and has his Commercial Drivers License.