NYC Anti-Idle Private Law Enforcement

A growing number of state and local jurisdictions are placing limits on how long trucks can sit idle with the engine running. Unnecessary truck idling contributes significantly to local air pollution and leads to additional greenhouse gas emissions.

In New York, private bounty hunters help enforce the anti-idle law. As reported by the New York Times, local citizens participate in the Citizens Air Complaint program, submitting reports of trucks idling for more than three minutes and collecting a portion of the fines collected as bonuses. As the Times reports:

Those who report collect 25% of any fine against a truck by submitting a video just over 3 minutes long that shows the engine running and the company name on the door.

The program has dramatically increased the number of idling truck complaints sent to the city, from a handful before its inception in 2018 to more than 12,000 last year. . . .

The bounty system appears to have been effective in recruiting local citizens to help enforce the law, but it has also led to conflict, as truckers don’t like being reported.

The program and increased interest in filing complaints have brought a new game of cat-and-mouse to the city streets, as citizen journalists prowl for idling trucks and drivers, perhaps being bitten by past fines, increasingly wary of people with cameras. . . .

Despite efforts to evade citizen law enforcement, the program results in significant fines and payouts.

The city paid more than $724,000 in premiums last year alone, and $1.1 million since 2019. For its part, the city collected $2.4 million in fines last year, up 24% compared to the serious launch of the program three years ago.

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