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New Rule Limits Idling For Trucks In NC

North Carolina air quality officials hope to see fewer trucks idling at rest stops starting this week. It's the latest effort to improve dismal air quality in Mecklenburg and other counties. Many truck drivers like to leave their engines idling while they grab dinner or take a nap. It keeps the temperature in the cab comfortable and some believe it saves gas, too. But Jerry Huber says that's a myth. He's director of safety for Atlantic Trucking Company. "If you're gonna be stuck in an area for over five minutes, shut it off and it's been proven it'll save about a gallon of fuel per hour," says Huber. Five minutes is the new rule for truck drivers in North Carolina. The Division of Air Quality says trucks can't idle for longer than that during a given hour. There are some exceptions, but generally Huber says, "it just makes good common sense that idling any vehicle unnecessarily is a tremendous waste." North Carolina officials approved the idling restriction last year, but the trucking industry appealed its implementation until this week. A spokesman for the Division of Air Quality, Tom Mather, says there is no plan to enforce the rule. Officials hope drivers will comply voluntarily. "As the EPA has lowered the standards and made it more stringent, we've had to dig deeper to find more sources of air pollution to control," says Mather. The Division of Air Quality has already put restrictions on power plant emissions and has been trying for several years to get buses and automobile drivers to stop idling. Vehicle emissions are a major contributor to the region's poor air quality. Mecklenburg County is one of several in North Carolina with air pollution beyond the limits set by federal authorities.