Monday, July 27, 2009

Start spreading the news

In only a couple of weeks, Land Line readers will receive their August/September magazine in the mailbox.

As usual, the August/September book is loaded with information on anti-idling devices.

But this year, as you’ll see, marks a new chapter in trucking. Many more states, counties and cities are limiting or outright banning truck idling.

The premise is simple. Running diesel trucks for hours at a time uses more diesel and can emit more particulate matter than running an APU or other idling alternative.

The emissions aren’t good for anyone to breathe, especially the truck drivers who sit closer to engines than anyone. Of course, that’s overlooking many of the practicalities of idling, which I’ll get to in a minute.

But truckers understand the premise, and thousands of OOIDA members have purchased idling alternatives or sweated out hot afternoons in order to comply with local regulations.

Guess who isn’t buying in?

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently made headlines when an Associated Press report detailed the news service’s investigation into Bloomberg’s mayoral fleet.

According to The AP, Bloomberg’s fleet flouted the city’s one-minute idling limit around schools, with his Chevy SUVs idling for between “10 minutes and an hour” all over New York.

Read the story here.

Since that story went public, Bloomberg has publicly apologized and told the NYPD to shut off his fleet’s engines when parked.

Apparently Bloomberg’s fleet is classified as emergency vehicles, which were technically exempt from idling restrictions.

Bloomberg has taken credit for Gotham’s environmental gains, but before being outed, seemed to think he was more important than any truck drivers who are unfortunate enough to have to make Big Apple deliveries.

Besides being a massive contradiction, this story bothered me because I’ve heard from more than 100 Land Line readers since I’ve worked here who have detailed long afternoons and nights of surviving in their sleeper without heat or air conditioning.

Follow some of the truckers who follow Land Line on Twitter at twitter.com/land_line_mag, and you’ll get an idea. All winter and into the spring, many truckers on Twitter wrote about problems with idling, within the social networking site’s 140-character limit, of course.

Owner-operators have to contend with technology that sometimes breaks down, and company drivers face an ever smaller number of idling hours allowed per week, leading to some potentially dangerous situations.

Extra blankets and thick sweats don’t keep drivers warm during 30 and even 40 degree nights. Try working a full day after sleeping in a pool of sweat during the summer.

And contrary to popular images of truckers in movies like “Smokey and the Bandit,” they’re not crisscrossing the country to win friendly wagers or spend time with Sally Field.

Instead, they’re required to comply with these regs as RV users, mayors and other elite can legally idle the night away.