Texas lifts idling restriction, adds tarp requirement

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Texas Gov. Rick Perry has signed into law a bill to allow idling during rest periods and another bill that makes transporting loose material, aggregates or refuse untarped a fineable offense.

Perry signed the bills, both effective Sept. 1, into law last month.

The idling bill, supported by the Texas Motor Transportation Association, allows truckers to idle to power a heater or air conditioner when complying with hours-of-service mandated rest periods. The new law supersedes the Texas Environmental Quality Commission’s regulation that would have allowed cities to limit idling to five minutes.

However, the new legislation prohibits drivers, even while using the vehicle’s sleeper berth, to idle in a school zone or within 1,000 feet of a public school during school hours. It sets a maximum fine of $500 for violations. The law expires September 2007, when stricter emission standards begin.

The Texas Natural Resources Conservation Commission repealed a rule Dec. 1 that affected the eight-county Houston/Galveston region. That rule prohibited trucks weighing more than 14,000 pounds from idling more than five minutes April 1 to Oct. 31 each year.

The other bill requires tarps for commercial hauling of sand, gravel, rock or refuse and attaches a $25 to $500 fine for violators.