No Idle Threat

If you own a business that takes deliveries from trucks, start your stopwatch when the truck driver arrives. And if you own or rent any property where any deliveries are made by commercial trucks or where any commercial trucks regularly park, you must post signs against diesel engine idling and actively take steps to prevent engine idling.

The Diesel-Powered Motor Vehicle Idling Act makes it a minor crime to leave a large diesel-powered truck engine idling for more than five minutes in any 60-minute period. The Act does not just punish truck drivers who idle more than the permitted five minutes–it imposes responsibility on owners and tenants at any location where idling trucks park or make deliveries.

Anyone who owns or rents a location where diesel trucks with a gross weight of 10,001 pounds or more make deliveries or park is responsible for stopping truck drivers from letting the engine idle longer than five minutes. Drivers who allow their vehicles to idle excessively are liable for summary criminal fines from $150 up to $300 and can also receive an additional $1,000 civil penalty. Truck owners can be held responsible for the costs of prosecuting the drivers. What about property owners and their tenants? Their liability for fines is exactly the same as that of the truck drivers: They can be fined from $150 to $300 per incident and can also face potential civil penalties of $1,000.

Permanent Signs

Effective February 6, 2009, both landlords and tenants must post “permanent” signs to inform truck drivers that idling is restricted. The signs must comply with PennDOT’s Handbook of Approved Signs, available online at

Both landlords and tenants are responsible for preventing excessive idling. Posting the signs does nothing to protect you if visiting diesel vehicles violate the five-minute rule. Under the Act, all landowners and tenants are broadly responsible for preventing excessive idling, and no defenses or excuses are included in the language of the Act. Particularly if you have a high number of truck deliveries on your property, or if trucks regularly park and idle in your parking lot, you must train your employees to require that all drivers obey the five-minute limit.


There are certain exceptions, however. The five-minute limit does not apply to any diesel vehicle that exhibits a label issued by the California Air Resources Board showing that the vehicle’s engine meets certain idling emission standards.

The Act also excludes motor homes and farm equipment from the vehicles subject to the Act. Emergency vehicles actually involved in emergency response or training may be idled as necessary but not simply for the “convenience of the driver.” Armored vehicles may idle if a person remains in the vehicle and the idling is limited to the period of loading and unloading.

The Act permits cargo refrigeration trucks to idle if necessary for public health reasons. School bus drivers with students aboard may idle for 15 minutes and may idle longer to maintain temperatures necessary to protect special-needs students. Waste haulers who are “actively” picking up trash or recyclables can idle during pickups. And, until May 1, 2010, truck drivers with sleeping berths can idle their engines while they rest to maintain heat or air conditioning under limited circumstances. Thereafter, they will not be permitted to idle the engine during rest periods unless they are parked at a facility that provides stationary idle-reduction technology.

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