October 21, 2005

California air agency adopts idling truck rule

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - California air quality regulators
have issued an order that will prohibit big-rig trucks with
sleeping berths from idling their diesel engines while parked.

The order, adopted late Thursday by the California Air
Resources Board (CARB), is believed to be the first in the
nation to require big sleeper trucks to shut off their engines
during layovers, according to the agency.

The decision will affect an estimated 180,000 big-rig
trucks operating on California roads every day, most of them
equipped with sleeper cabs, CARB spokesman Jerry Martin said.
About 40,000 sleeper trucks are from outside California.

The air board estimates that while big rigs in California
are idling, they emit 53 tons a day of nitrogen oxide, which
contributes to the formation of smog, Martin said.

In 2004 California ordered operators of commercial trucks
and buses to shut off their engines after idling for five
minutes, but the rule did not cover trucks with sleeping berths
unless they were within 100 feet of a home or school.

The new rule will go into effect for engines on 2008 model
year trucks weighing more than 14,000 pounds. Trucks will have
to be equipped with a system to automatically shut off the
engine after five minutes.

Owners of pre-2008 sleeper trucks may have to install an
auxiliary power supply or some other equipment to provide heat
or air conditioning for the cab.

Operators idle their engines overnight at truck stops and
rest areas to heat or cool the sleeping area and to operate
electrical appliances and charge batteries.

The measure was opposed by trucking industry groups, which
said there are no efficient auxiliary power supplies currently
available for sleeper trucks and a no-idling rule could
threaten the safety of drivers who need to rest.

Federal regulations require a driver must be off-duty for
10 hours after working a 14-hour shift.

In a separate decision, the air regulators directed state
transit agencies to add filters to older diesel buses to trap