A municipal official’s guide to diesel idling reduction in New York State
This guide presents basic information about vehicle idling, and practical solutions for consideration.
Idling is the continuous operation of a vehicle’s main drive engine while it is stopped. It is a common occurrence with personal automobiles, especially during stops at a traffic light. This type of idling is typically short in duration, and therefore has a minimal impact on air quality and fuel consumption. On the other hand, diesel trucks operate differently than automobiles. Diesel trucks, by their very nature, are designed to carry goods over long distances and may idle overnight or while waiting to load or unload.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that long duration idling consumes over 1 billion gallons of fuel annually, at a cost of over $2.5 billion. Further, truck idling emits, annually, 11 million tons of carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas), 180,000 tons of nitrogen oxides (precursor to ozone formation), 5,000 tons of fine particulate matter (likely carcinogen), and other harmful air toxics. Idling also increases engine operating costs and shortens engine service life. As for truck drivers, idling emissions have been found to leak into the truck cab creating health and safety concerns for the driver. When trucks idle near residential neighborhoods, while at a private or public truck stop or distribution center, the pollution and noise levels raise serious quality of life concerns.
Vehicle idling has become an accepted practice in the United States. This guidebook can assist state and local officials in understanding the issues, alternative technologies and approaches, and making sound state and local land use decisions that can contribute towards reducing the impacts of engine idling.