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Things that make you say Hmm!

Today, we are starting a new feature here on The Edge of Empty called "Things that make you say Hmm!"  We will be discussing things that we encounter and don't know what they are or cause us to do a double take.
Our subject today is another by-product of our trip to Philadelphia.  At one of our rest stops, we saw these strange looking contraptions in the truck parking area.  I am pretty sure that we were in Delaware at the time but the rest stop description on the I-95 Exit Guide website doesn't list anything particularly helpful for figuring out what the contraptions might have been.  (Did you know that there was a website devoted to rest stops on I-95?  Well there is, and there are sites for other highways as well.  Even better, they have apps in the App store and the Android Market.  Actually, there is a lot of helpful information on the website so check it out--after reading this post of course.  I will definitely be using the gas price link to plan our stops strategically in the future).

But back to the subject at hand.  What are those contraptions? I went to the Delaware Department of Transportation site and found the answer.  The contraptions are anti-idle hookups in the "environmentally-friendly truck parking area".  Who knew?  Apparently, jurisdictions across the country are enacting legislation that prohibits trucks from idling (parking with engine running) over a certain time period in certain areas.  The American Transportation Research Institute has compiled a list of the regulations and made it available here.  I would imagine that this will become even more prevalent as the country continues to battle the pollution problem.
I am sure that truckers battled this problem well before it became an environmental issue though.  Federal regulations strictly control how many hours can be spent driving before a rest period must be taken. Truckers couldn't be expected to freeze in winter and swelter in summer, so running the truck was the only option until someone came up with a solution.  For many, the solutions such as an auxiliary power unit were too expensive. Fortunately, several companies have entered the market to offer anti-idle options.  One such company is idleAir.  I don't know if their units are the ones in Delaware but for informational purposes,  here is an excerpt straight from their site about their service: "IdleAir offers drivers an off-board alternative to idling their engines. Drivers shut off their engines and connect to IdleAir’s heating, cooling, electricity, Satellite TV, and Internet services. IdleAir costs $1.99/hour, and after 10 hours, IdleAir is only $1.25/hour. At IdleAir, a 34 hour reset costs $49.90 – an average of $1.47/hour – and less than half the cost of idling. Plus, drivers get to enjoy unlimited electricity inside and outside the cab, 60+ channels of Satellite TV, and basic Internet service. Finally, drivers get clean, filtered, UV-treated air, and a better sleep without the noise and vibration of idling."  Basically, the driver pulls his truck up to the "pump" and hooks the unit up to the cab and is able to sleep or relax in comfort.  (In the interest of full disclosure, I am not affiliated with this company nor receiving payment for writing about them).
I guess if we solve the false alarm problem, maybe I can get a job in anti-idle enforcement.

If you have suggestions for "Things that make you say Hmm!" , please send them to edgeofempty@gmail.com.  Please include as much information about the curiosity as possible such as where you saw it and what it looked like. Pictures are always helpful. Who knows, maybe it will be featured here.

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