In 2008 the Governor of Pennsylvania signed into law the Pennsylvania Diesel-Powered Motor Vehicle Idling Act (or Act 124). The law took effect in 2009. Since then, owners and drivers of commercial diesel-powered trucks and buses weighing more than 10,001 lbs. are not permitted to idle for more than five minutes in an hour. Furthermore, owners and operators of locations where these vehicles load or unload or where at least 15 parking spaces are provided for such vehicles are required to erect and maintain idling restriction signs.
IdleFreePA represents a partnership of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) and three environmental and health advocacy groups in Pennsylvania. Our objective is to increase awareness of the Pennsylvania’s idling law by truck and bus drivers, by fleet owners and operators, by businesses, and by the general public. We are also reaching out to local government authorities, because their police departments are authorized to enforce the law by issuing non-traffic summary citations. Having local authorities assist PADEP with enforcement is the best way to maximize compliance with the law.
The Problem With Idling
Unnecessary idling results in unnecessary pollution, which impacts both our environment and our health. Diesel particulate matter and nitrogen oxide (an ozone-forming compound) are released into the air whenever a truck or bus is idling. These pollutants contribute to haze and acid rain and can cause asthma attacks, heart attacks, stroke and cancer when exposed to people. Idling engines also emit carbon dioxide, which is a greenhouse gas. Furthermore, unnecessary idling results in an economic loss due to wasted fuel. Trucks consume about a gallon of diesel fuel per hour spent idling. If the typical truck averages 1,800 hours a year, that can mean $4,608 wasted on fuel annually. More information can be found in the factsheets that IdleFreePA has developed.
What Is IdleFreePA Doing?
Three environmental and health advocacy groups (Group Against Smog and Pollution, American Lung Association of the Mid-Atlantic, and Clean Air Council) are working with PADEP on a statewide idling outreach campaign. Earlier this year we put up idling education signs at selected Pennsylvania Turnpike toll booths. We have developed placemats that provide detailed information about Pennsylvania’s anti-idling laws and distributed them to interested eating establishments where truck drivers frequent. We have produced two anti-idling posters, which have been posted at PennDOT Rest Areas and Welcome Centers in the State, a well as some Pennsylvania Turnpike Rest Stops.
Currently, the IdleFreePA partners are meeting with local government officials, including police departments, to explain Pennsylvania’s idling law and to seek their assistance with enforcement.
If You Think You See A Violation…