Saturday, January 30, 2010

Bad news for the environment and for truck drivers

IdleAire, an innovative green firm which allowed truck drivers to warm their cabs during break times without idling their diesel engines, thereby reducing fuel costs and exhaust pollution, announced that it will close today. IdleAire was a system located at selected truck stops which allowed a driver to ventilate warm air in the winter, or air-conditioned air during warm months, into the cab and sleeping cabin of a truck during the driver's break times. Without this system, or another auxiliary power unit, (APU), most drivers leave their diesel engines running in maintain a comfortable living temperature while they rest. According to the company's own website, IdleAire "contributed to saving over 50 million gallons of diesel fuel and prevented over 1.1 billion pounds of diesel idling emissions from entering the air" as well as "(reducing)the carbon footprint by preventing over 519,000 metric tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere".

This is bad news for truck drivers, particularly those in states like New York and Pennsylvania, which prohibit drivers from idling their engines during breaks. Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations mandate that over-the-road drivers take a 10-hour break after either 14 hours of work or 11 hours of driving. Since most trucking companies will not invest in APU's for their trucks, these anti-idle laws mean that drivers are unable to heat their trucks during their breaks. During summer months, the inside of cabs quickly reach a temperature 20 degrees or more higher than the outside air, making it impossible to sleep without operating an air conditioner.

The time has come for trucking companies to own up to their responsibility for their drivers' safety, and for the protection of our environment, as well as for our nation's energy independence. It is also time for our federal government to recognize the importance of our nation's trucking companies to our economy by offering substantial tax subsidies for companies that buy APU's for their trucks. Such a program would benefit the environment, help ensure that drivers are properly rested before reporting for work, and spur the industry that produces Auxiliary Power Units.

The time is now for truck drivers, as well as anyone who has ever purchased something delivered by truck (that means YOU) to contact your Representative and ask that Congress offer tax subsidies to trucking companies to companies that help the environment by buying Auxiliary Power Units for their fleets.

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