In New York City, people can make money for reporting commercial vehicles left idling without a driver.
Former Mayor Bill de Blasio tried to publicize this Citizens Air Complaint Program in his final days in office as he pushed his climate agenda. Idling emissions from gasoline and diesel motor vehicle engines can contribute to health-related impacts, including asthma, respiratory, and cardiovascular harm, according to New York’s Environmental Protection website.
Under this law, a commercial truck or bus can be fined for idling for more than three minutes (or for one minute in a school zone), according to a NBC4 New York report.
One New York City man has already made six figures from reporting idling vehicles, says the report. So far, Donald Blair has gotten paid $55,000 and has another $70,000 on the way. Under the rules of this 2019 law, vehicle owners can be fined $250 or more, while the citizen reporting the idling gets $87.50 (or one-quarter of each issued fine).
Blair belongs to a group of watchdogs that calls itself the IDLE Warriors, according to the NBC report. Currently, there are approximately 60 New Yorkers involved in this group.
But it appears that many commercial vehicle owners aren’t paying the fines. According to City Hall, there are about $8 million in unpaid idling vehicle fines. Amazon owes the most in fines at $250,000. UPS and FedEx also owe a lot in fines at $70,000 and $60,000, respectively. Amazon said it’s working with city representatives to resolve its outstanding fines, according to the report. FedEx and UPS issued similar statements.
Last year, almost 11,500 idling tickers were issued, more than double the 5,000 given out in 2019 before the law took effect, according to the Department of Environmental Protection.
To file an idling complaint, a citizen needs to submit a time- and date-stamped video taken during the time of observation that shows the commercial truck or bus continuously idling for more than three minutes, according to the NYC Environmental Protection website. The video needs to contain the license plate and the company information from the vehicle. Additionally, the sound of the idling engine needs to be clearly heard on the video.
Using the online Idling Complaint System, citizens must submit their completed complaint and the supporting evidence within 60 days from the date of observing the idling truck or bus.
If the Department of Environmental Protection issues the summons, the citizen might need to be available in person or by phone to testify. If the summons is upheld, the company or business must pay the penalty for the citizen to receive payment for his or her complaint.