I had an interesting discussion with Rev. McKenna, President of the Central Pennsylvania Clean Air Board. She explained the need for anti-idling regulation in Pennsylvania. Unlike the majority of states surrounding Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania itself does not have an ant-idling regulation that restricts trucks from idling. From her experience speaking with truckers and the trucking industry, she learned that some truck drivers deliberately drive to Pennsylvania because they know that the state does not have any restrictions against idling. This certainly may contribute to the 3,000 trucks that can be found idling 24 hours, 7 days a week a few miles from downtown Carlisle. Trucks idle because drivers are required to rest 10 hours for every 24 hours that they drive, and during that period of rest, truck drivers keep warm in the winter and cold in the summer by idling.
Idling trucks contribute to Carlisle’s poor air quality in a very negative way. Indeed, doctors note that diesel contains four compounds that are carcinogenic. The particulates in diesel exhaust are also harmful because of their size; these particulates are the same size of particulates that are utilized to deliver medicine to the deepest area of asthmatic patients’ lungs. Rev. McKenna noted that there is a “good” size for “good” particulates but the same size is also good in transporting “bad” particulates like those from exhaust from trucks running on diesel.
While these idling trucks are obviously bad for Carlisle’s air quality, Rev. McKenna suggested that the truck traffic in downtown Carlisle is not great for business because it creates a sidewalk atmosphere that is not pedestrian friendly. Therefore, people are less likely to shop downtown on foot or bycicle.