California air agency adopts anti-idling rule

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California air quality regulators have issued an order that will prohibit trucks with sleeping berths from idling their diesel engines while parked, Reuters reported. The order, adopted Thursday, Oct. 20 by the California Air Resources Board, is believed to be the first in the nation to require sleeper trucks to shut off their engines during layovers.

The decision will affect an estimated 180,000 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 trucks 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 unit to provide heat or air conditioning for the cab.

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.