Michigan county urges state to adopt idling laws

February 23, 2024

Tyson Fisher


The Wayne County Commission wants local and state lawmakers in Michigan to adopt anti-idling laws for commercial vehicles, as local laws in Detroit go unenforced.

On Feb. 15, the Wayne County Commission adopted a resolution addressing engine idling by trucks, buses and other commercial vehicles. The commission “strongly encourages the adoption of legislation that would limit idling by commercial motor vehicles.” The resolution is being sent to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, state lawmakers and local officials.

In addition to the call for more idling laws across Michigan, the Wayne County Commission’s resolution encourages truckers to voluntarily shut off their engines “immediately at frequent idling locations.” Those locations include parking lots, distribution centers, loading docks, construction sites and business centers.

The resolution was introduced by Commissioners Monique Baker McCormick and Tim Killen, both Detroit Democrats. Commissioner Terry Marecki, the lone Republican on the commission, was the only commissioner to voice opposition.

“Diesel trucks, buses and other commercial motor vehicles that idle are not only a nuisance to residents, but also create dangerous and serious public health and environmental risks,” the resolution states.

During the commission’s meeting, Raquel Garcia, executive director of Southwest Detroit Environmental Vision, claimed that if truckers shut off the engine only eight minutes a day, they can save up to $25,000 a year in fuel costs.

“Commercial fleet owners and operators will thank the Wayne County Commission when they start to realize these savings,” Garcia said.

An American Lung Association 2023 report gave Wayne County an “F” grade for ozone air pollution and particle pollution. A 2022 Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America report named Detroit the worst city in the U.S. for people with asthma.

According to the American Transportation Research Institute’s Compendium of Idling Regulations, 18 states and the District of Columbia have statewide idling laws.

Michigan is not one of them. Within some of those states are more stringent laws at the local level. There are local and country idling ordinances in an additional 13 states.

Among the patchwork of local idling laws is one that was enacted in Detroit in 2010. In the Motor City, trucks cannot idle for more than five consecutive minutes per 60-minute period. Exceptions include traffic conditions, inspections, power auxiliary equipment and motionlessness for more than two hours when the temperature is below 25 degrees Fahrenheit. Fines range from a warning for the first offense to up to $500 for subsequent offenses.

However, Detroit’s idling law has gone completely unenforced. According to Planet Detroit, the Detroit Police Department has not cited any truckers for violating the city’s idling law. Enforcement would require law enforcement to monitor an idling truck for at least five minutes.

In late 2021, Detroit Council Member Raquel Castaneda-Lopez was drafting legislation that would allow citizens to video record idling trucks and submit recordings to police. Citizens then would receive a portion of the fine paid. That legislation never materialized. Castaneda-Lopez left office in January 2022.

One such law currently exists in New York City and is being considered in Utah. In New York City, citizens can report an idling truck and receive an $87.50 award. According to an NBC New York report, one man earned $125,000 for reporting idling violations.

Idling laws also are under consideration in New York, Vermont and Washington. LL