The Effects of Truck Idling and Searching for Parking on Disadvantaged Communities

Research Team: Miguel Jaller (lead) and Runhua (Ivan) Xiao

UC Campus(es): UC Davis

Problem Statement: Truck idling and searching for parking consume fuels and produce emissions that degrade air quality. In the U.S., more than 6 billion gallons of fuel at an estimated cost of $20 billion are wasted each year due to idling. An idling heavy‐duty diesel truck emits about 10 times more nitrogen oxides (NOx) than a passenger car, and truck idling emits more than 11 million tons of carbon dioxide and more than 180,000 tons of NOx per year, in addition to particulate matter and other air pollutants. Trucks usually idle near warehouses and distribution centers, and research has shown that these facilities are disproportionally located in disadvantaged communities. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has been trying to address the negative consequences of community exposure to particulates from idling through various policies such as Airborne Toxic Control Measures. Moreover, emissions from idling or searching for parking are not the only problem; a recent study of disadvantaged communities in Southern California found that safety is also a critical factor. However, despite new regulations and technological improvements, the negative effects continue to occur, especially in disadvantaged communities.

Project Description: This research project addresses the issue of truck idling and searching for parking in disadvantaged communities in the Central Valley, specifically in Kern County, where CARB identified the cities of Shafter, Arvin, and Lamont as environmental justice communities (as part of Assembly Bill 617 implementation). First, using publicly available information about parking and idling behavior from GeoTAB’s Intelligence Data tool, the team conducted spatial analyses to identify truck parking and idling hotspots. This information was enhanced with data from other public sources about the physical infrastructure, and socio‐demographic and economic conditions to develop exploratory econometric models to identify the factors that contribute to idling time, or time and distance spent searching for parking. The team used data from the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District’s Community Air Monitoring portal to determine whether higher emission levels are associated with locations with more idling or searching for parking. Using emission rates from the CARB’s Emission FACtor (EMFAC) model, the team estimated the emissions from idling and searching for parking and quantify the vehicle mileage traveled in and around the hotspots. Second, the team conducted fieldwork at the various locations (hotspots identified in AB 617 and other disadvantaged communities) to document actual truck parking/idling conditions to identify other factors that may affect this behavior, and any additional negative effects brought about. Through collaboration with the Kern Council of Governments and Caltrans, the team gathered input and feedback from the local impacted communities. The process developed in this project could be replicated with other communities.

Status: In Progress

Budget: $80,000