NYC’s Private Anti-Idling Law Enforcers

There are increasing numbers of local and state jurisdictions that limit the time trucks can be left idle while their engines run. Truck idle time is an important contributor to local pollution, and can also cause additional greenhouse gases.

New York City’s private bounty hunters are a part of the enforcement of anti-idling laws. This is the story. New York Times Participating in the Citizens Air Complaints Program are local residents. These reports cover trucks which idle more than 3 minutes. A portion of any fines is collected as bounties. The following is the Times reports:

Reporters can collect 25% of any truck fine by providing a short video of just over three minutes that displays the engine running and names of company owners on the doors.

This program has greatly increased the amount of complaints about idling trucks that are sent to the city from just a few before it was created in 2018, to over 12,000 by last year. . . .

While the bounty system may have worked well in recruiting local residents to enforce the law locally, conflict has arisen because truck operators don’t like being reported.

Because of this program, more people are interested in filing complaints. Citizen reporters have been patrolling the streets in search for abandoned trucks. And drivers who may be resentful of camera-wielding citizens, might also be stung by previous fines. . . .

Even though the government tries to hide it, this program still results in significant fines and payments.

Last year, the city collected more than $724,000 in bounty payments and over $1.1million since 2019. Last year’s fines totaled $2.4million. This is a 24 percent increase over the $324,000 collected when the program was first started three years back.