Five-minute idling now the rule in California

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California’s new five-minute limit on truck idling allows longer use during driver rest periods, but not when trucks are within 100 feet of homes and schools.

The California Air Resources Board’s rule became effective Feb. 1. It applies to all diesel trucks weighing more than 10,000 pounds, regardless of what state the truck is registered in, according to the board’s website.

The board’s own truck inspectors will do the most enforcement, but local and state police can also issue citations. Drivers are subject to a minimum $100 civil penalty and potential criminal penalties.

By September, CARB staffers will present the board with a more comprehensive proposal addressing truck idling during rest periods.

For now, truckers during rest periods can idle engines or use diesel-powered auxiliary power systems for more than five minutes only if more than 100 feet from a restricted area, which is a school or any type of dwelling, including apartments.

The idling rule also provides exceptions:

  • When truckers must stay in traffic (in a queue at a toll booth, for example) or in motion (during a snowstorm, for example).
  • When testing, servicing or repairing an engine.
  • When preventing a health emergency in the cab, for example if the idling is to operate equipment covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • When operating equipment such as a mixer on a cement truck.
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