Turn it Off! - Heavy Duty Vehicles

Save money, breathe better

Unnecessary idling wastes fuel, costs money and pollutes the air. That’s why a North Carolina rule requires operators of heavy-duty vehicles to reduce unnecessary idling.  The rule is part of the state’s efforts to reduce air pollution, protect public health and meet more stringent federal air quality standards. The rule was developed with input from truckers, shipping companies and other stakeholders. More than 20 states have idle-reduction rules.

tl_files/cfte/images/Diesel/iStock_000002312011XSmall.jpgOperators could save a lot of fuel and money by complying with the idle rule.  A heavy-duty vehicle typically burns about one gallon of fuel per hour while idling. For example, a truck that unnecessarily idles 100 hours a month could waste $3,600 worth of diesel fuel a year with prices at $3.00 per gallon. 

Idling vehicles are significant sources of air pollution. The N.C. Division of Air Quality (DAQ) estimates the rule will reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions, the primary cause of ozone pollution, by up to 1,300 tons per year statewide. In comparison, a medium-sized coal-fired power plant typically emits about 500 tons of NOx a year.  The rule could reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, the most common greenhouse gas, by as much as 100,000 tons per year. Exhaust from idling vehicles also contains fine particles and toxic air pollutants that can pose health risks for truckers and other people at highway rest areas, truck stops and other places where idling vehicles congregate.

Who must reduce idling?

The idle-reduction rule applies to on-road gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles with loaded weights greater than 10,000 pounds (gross vehicle weight rating). Under the rule, operators should not idle their vehicles more than five consecutive minutes in any 60-minute period except for certain cases dealing with safety, health or economic concerns.

The rule makes allowances for cases when idling may be necessary.  For example, operators of emergency vehicles such as fire trucks can idle while responding to emergencies or during training exercises. Heavy-duty vehicles can idle when it’s necessary to operate equipment that depends on their engines, such as hoists and refrigerators. For a copy of the the state law and list of exemptions, visit:  http://www.ncair.org/rules/idle/

How can you reduce idling?

tl_files/cfca/images/No Idling/Idle Reduction Signs 12 x 18 inches.jpg

The easiest way to reduce idling is simply to turn off your engine.  However, vehicle operators often idle their engines for good reasons, such as providing power for air conditioners, refrigerators and other equipment. Truckers can avoid idling by stopping at truck stops that provide electricity, share power and other services. 

Another alternative is to install idle-reduction equipment such as auxiliary power units (APUs) to provide the electricity needed to run heaters, air conditioners and other needs.  Such equipment can range in cost from about $2,500 to $10,000 to install.  The fuel and wear-and-tear savings from reduced idling would offset those costs in about one to two years for most vehicles, depending on fuel costs. 

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