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Can I Leave My Pickup Truck Running All Night at a Rest Area?

Can I Leave My Pickup Truck Running All Night at a Rest Area?


There are some folks pulling a travel trailer who want to leave their pickup truck’s engine running while parked overnight at a rest area. The idea is to use the truck’s engine as a generator to power the trailer’s 110 volt electrical system, so that they can run the air conditioner inside. The question is…

leaving engine running all night at a rest area
Rest Area, I-40 Eastbound, Gans, OK

Can I Leave My Pickup Truck’s Engine Running All Night at a Rest Area?

We received an e-mail from someone asking this question…

Hi, my wife and I are getting ready to take our travel trailer on its first long distance trip from New Jersey to Florida. We plan on taking two nights to make the trip. We would like to use our trailer at a rest stop for at least 4 to 5 hours to sleep. We would like to run our air conditioner at that same time. Can I leave my towing truck running with the camper plugged in and the inverter on to run the air conditioner? Thank you for your help

Bob N.

We’ve researched every state’s laws and regulations pertaining to rest areas, and not a single one addresses the issue of leaving the engine running all night.

When you consider the fact that many semi-trucks hauling refrigerated trailers will leave their diesel engines running all night, it seems like states and highway patrol officers don’t seem to think it’s an issue at all.

However, only Idaho specifically prohibits running of generators while at a rest area. There are also a few other states that prohibit unreasonably loud noises or disturbing the peace…

  • Idaho – specifically prohibits the running of generators all night. However, it’s our belief that leaving your pickup truck’s engine running won’t be viewed as the same. See, “Idaho Rest Area Rules“.
  • Maryland – specifically prohibits any act that would “breach the peace“. However, we believe this was intended to target people are are being reckless towards others. Read, “Rules for Using Rest Areas in Maryland“.
  • North Carolina – specifically prohibits “unreasonably loud noises“. However, we believe this rule was intended to target persons yelling, screaming, or using sound-amplifying devices like loud-speakers, megaphones, etc. Read, “North Carolina Rest Area Rules“.
  • Oregon – specifically prohibits, “Creating noise by any means which interferes with the reasonable use of the rest area by other visitors“. But as with North Carolina, we believe this was intended to target people yelling, screaming, or intentionally disturbing others. Read, “Oregon Rest Area Rules“.
  • Pennsylvania – specific prohibits, “disruptive activities that interfere with the proper functioning of a rest area“. But we believe this was intended for person who are being reckless or blatant towards others. Read, “Rules for Using Rest Areas in Pennsylvania“.

Our Recommendations for Running Your Engine All Night at a Rest Area

  • We recommend parking your truck & trailer in areas intended for trucks so that any noise from leaving your engine running all night blends in with other trucks.
  • If leaving your engine running all night, turn off your headlights and running lights so as to minimize attention from rest area security and/or highway patrol officers.

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