Laying down the law

March 1, 2010
When the price of diesel hit its all-time high in 2008, a great many fleets did not need idling regulations to tell them that it was time to implement idle reduction solutions and policies. One look at their weekly fuel costs was enough. As a result, 2008 was a record year for the sale of idle reduction systems. In 2009, however, with the cost of diesel back down and the economy in shambles, the installation

When the price of diesel hit its all-time high in 2008, a great many fleets did not need idling regulations to tell them that it was time to implement idle reduction solutions and policies. One look at their weekly fuel costs was enough. As a result, 2008 was a record year for the sale of idle reduction systems. In 2009, however, with the cost of diesel back down and the economy in shambles, the installation of idle reduction systems also dropped, by some measures as much as 50 to 70%. What did not decline was the implementation of anti-idling regulations and their enforcement.

In 2010, the demand for idle reduction solutions is expected to increase once again, as more fleets find themselves impacted by new idling restrictions that make the case for idle reduction systems that much more compelling. Grants, tax credits and other incentives have further sweetened the deal for some.

Today, 17 states have statewide idling regulations: CA, CT, DE, FL, MA, MD, ME, NC, NV, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI SC, UT, VA, plus the District of Columbia. Most of them limit idling to under five minutes and some restrict it to less than three minutes. Vermont and Wisconsin are also looking at statewide limits, while other states, such as New Jersey, are ending their “sleeper exemptions,” which had allowed drivers with sleepers to idle during required rest periods.

FINES AND JAIL

Enforcement is likewise on the rise and penalties can be tough, especially within cities and other population-dense areas, many of which have their own, even stricter idling limits. Nevada's Clark County, which includes Las Vegas, set fines at “not to exceed $10,000,” while Connecticut caps fines at $5,000 per week. Run a diesel-powered refrigeration unit for more than five minutes within 100 ft. of a residential or school area in Sacramento, CA, and you may be fined $100 to $25,000 per violation. Imprisonment is also a possibility for offenders in some locations, such as Denver or New York City — risks that can put the ROI for idle reduction devices into a whole new light.

The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) is now tracking idling regulation nationwide and providing the information free to fleets at www.atri-online.org.

For other information about idling regulations, grants and incentives, the go-to source is the monthly National Idling Reduction Network News,, published online by the DOE through Argonne National Laboratory. Subscriptions and back issues of the National Idling Reduction Network News are available at www.eere.energy.gov/vehiclesandfuels/resources/fcvt_national_idling.html.

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