On January 26, 2022, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) proposed a new rule which tightens idling regulations for commercial trucks, and held a public hearing on March 2. DEP announced on May 23 that the change, which was published in the City Record, would take effect 30 days thereafter.
The amendment to Chapter 39 of Title 15 of the Rules of the City of New York adds a new definition to section 39-01 and clarifies what constitutes a “processing device” as it relates to "vehicle idling," as referenced in section 24-163 of the Administrative Code.
In pertinent part, Section 24-163 prohibits the idling of a motor vehicle engine for longer than three minutes (or one minute if adjacent to a school), unless the engine is used to operate a loading, unloading, or processing device. While the exception for processing devices dates back to 1971, the definition of that term was never provided. The new rule defines a “processing device” as a one that is necessary to accomplish the vehicle’s designed function via a mechanical connection to the engine, (e.g., a cement mixer), or a temperature-controlled system for food or other temperature-sensitive items.
The intent was to tighten the Code’s language so that future idling summonses can withstand dismissal. Previously, the definitional ambiguity led to attempts to stretch the understanding of the term to include charging power tools or cell phones. This rule provides that those delineated functions, along with a heater or air conditioner for cabin comfort, are not included in the definition of “processing device.” (The term does encompass a temperature control system for food, or other temperature-sensitive items, as that protects public health and comports with federal regulations.)
To ensure that a diverse group of people are part of the conversations driving future policy changes, DEP has established a working group on idling policy, which will frequently meet with DEP staff to discuss best policies.