Pa. Diesel Vehicle Idling Limits in Effect Now

A new measure that limits engine idling by heavy-duty diesel vehicles took effect on Feb. 6 in Pennsylvania.

The Diesel-Powered Motor Vehicle Idling Act (Act 124) restricts heavy-duty diesel vehicles from idling more than five minutes per hour. Truck and bus drivers often idle their engines during rest periods to heat or cool their sleeper compartment, to keep the engine warm during cold weather, and to provide electrical power for their appliances.

Each year, heavy-duty trucks in Pennsylvania emit about 3,200 tons of nitrogen oxides, a pre-cursor of smog and ground-level ozone; 210,000 tons of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas linked to climate change; and 65 tons of fine particulate matter by burning diesel fuel while idling. Act 124 applies to diesel-powered motor vehicles engaged in commerce with a gross weight of 10,001 pounds or more that are not specifically exempted. Most trucks and buses are subject to the act, though farm-related equipment and vehicles are exempt. Trucks with sleeper berths are exempted during times of low and high temperatures until May 1, 2010, providing a reasonable amount of time for truckers to make alternative arrangements for sleeping, such as using an electrified truck-stop parking space or buying equipment that provides power without idling.

The most common alternatives to idling are auxiliary power systems and stationary idle reduction technologies. Auxiliary power systems are devices installed on vehicles to provide electric power. Stationary idle reduction technology provides some type of plug-in system at locations where vehicles park.

The Department of Environmental Protection's Small Business Advantage Grant program has invested more than $1 million on top of the nearly $2 million truck owners and operators have spent to purchase 238 auxiliary power systems. For more information on this program, visit, keyword: SBAdvantage. Other investments by the commonwealth, in conjunction with those by private enterprises, have made 11 truck-stop electrifications systems available across the state. For an online map of system locations, visit and click on "Locations."

For more information on the Diesel-Powered Motor Vehicle Idling Act, visit, keyword: Diesel Idling.

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