Owners of diesel-powered motor vehicles and properties where they park will be subject to new requirements under a Pennsylvania law. The Diesel-Powered Motor Vehicle Idling Act (the Act), Laws of 2008, Act 124 (SB 295), which restricts the idling of diesel-powered motor vehicles, including trucks, buses, and school buses, takes effect on February 6, 2009. Specifically, the Act prohibits drivers and owners of a "diesel-powered motor vehicle with a gross weight of 10,001 pounds or more engaged in commerce" from causing the engine of the vehicles to idle for more than five minutes in any continuous 60-minute period, unless the Act otherwise provides. Owners and operators of a location where such vehicles load, unload, or park also are forbidden from allowing the vehicle engines to idle for more than five minutes in any continuous 60-minute period. The prohibition is enforceable through fines from $150 to $300 per violation and through enforcement orders and civil penalties. 

The Act sets out a number of instances when a diesel-powered motor vehicle may idle for longer than five minutes. For example, buses, school buses, and other school vehicles may idle for 15 minutes in any 60-minute period when non-driver passengers are on board if the vehicle must idle to provide heat or air-conditioning, and school buses and other school vehicles may idle as long as necessary to maintain a safe temperature when students with special needs are on board. Also, a school vehicle is not subject to idling restrictions when it is necessary for the vehicle to idle off school property during queuing for discharge or pickup of students because the physical configuration of a school or the school's surrounding streets does not allow for stopping. Moreover, a vehicle may idle for up to 15 minutes in any continuous 60-minute period when necessary for sampling, weighing, active loading, or active unloading or when an attended vehicle is waiting for these activities. 

An owner or operator of a location where vehicles subject to the Act load or unload, or a location that provides at least 15 parking spaces for vehicles subject to the Act, must install a permanent sign to inform drivers that idling is restricted in Pennsylvania.

Lawyers in Ballard's Environmental Group can provide additional information about this new law. For assistance, please contact Ronald M. Varnum at 215.864.8416 or varnumr@ballardspahr.com.

Copyright © 2009 by Ballard Spahr LLP.
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