The Law

Pennsylvania’s Diesel-Powered Motor Vehicle Idling Act (Act 124 of 2008) (35 P.S. § 4601 (2009))

On October 9, 2008, Governor Rendell signed Act 124 to reduce unnecessary idling in diesel-powered motor vehicles, including trucks and buses.  The Act took effect February 6, 2009.  On May 1, 2010 the exemption to this Act for sleeper-berth vehicles expired.

What is the idling requirement?

No idling for more than five minutes in any continuous 60-minute period.

Who must comply?

The owners and drivers of any diesel-powered motor vehicle with a gross weight of 10,001 pounds or more engaged in commerce.  Owners and operators of locations where subject vehicles load, unload, or park are also responsible for compliance with the law.

What is the signage requirement?

A permanent sign to inform drivers that idling is restricted in Pennsylvania must be erected and maintained at locations where subject vehicles load or unload, or where 15 or more parking spaces are provided for subject vehicles.  The signs must conform to an approved sign format as determined by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

Who must comply?

The owner or operator of the location in question.

What does “engaged in commerce” mean?

A motor vehicle that has a visible business name or logo on the outside.  School buses are specifically considered to be “engaged in commerce.”  Motor vehicles in private use are not considered to be “engaged in commerce.”

Are there any exemptions?

Yes.  Certain vehicles, such as those used in husbandry or farming, are exempt from Act 124.  Buses can idle for up to 15 minutes during a 60-minute period when passengers are aboard.  Any vehicle can idle for mechanical, traffic, maintenance, vehicle equipment inspection, emergency, utility service functions, and security reasons, among others.   Formerly, there was an exemption for vehicles that had sleeper-berths, but it expired on May 1, 2010.

Who enforces the law?

DEP and state and local law enforcement officers are authorized to enforce Act 124 requirements.  Local law authorities can issue non-traffic summary citations for violations.

What are the penalties for violating the law?

A conviction will result in a fine ranging from $150 to $300, plus court costs.  Anyone found to be in violation of Act 124 commits a summary offense.  The Department of Environmental Protection may also assess civil penalties of up to $1,000 a day for each Act 124 violation.

What about idling laws in Philadelphia that predate Act 124?

Philadelphia idling requirements continue in full force to the extent that they are more stringent than Pennsylvania’s law.  Act 124 preempts and supersedes local anti-idling ordinances or rules in all other jurisdictions.

For more information:

Pennsylvania’s Act 124 of 2008 (full text of the law; Title 35, Chapter 23B)(35 P.S. § 4601 (2009))

Pennsylvania’s Diesel-Powered Motor Vehicle Idling Act Factsheet

Philadelphia Idling of Diesel Powered Motor Vehicles Air Management Regulation

Philadelphia Excessive Idling of and Noise from Motor Vehicles Traffic Code Ordinance

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  1. August 3, 2010 at 11:46 pm

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