A TikTok user recently went viral with a video highlighting New York City’s Citizen Air Complaint Program, which allows residents to earn money by reporting idling trucks.
TikTok user doobzee.eth garnered 1.3 million views for an Oct. 17 video describing how New Yorkers can earn extra cash by pointing out that idling trucks are a “hustle of the wild side”.
@doobzee.eth #greenscreen Would you do that or is it just a snitch? #nyc #sidehustle #idling #snitching ♬ Violin – Grooving Gecko
“Just be careful because a lot of people have been hit or even stabbed by truckers for doing this,” the video warns.
New York City has had anti-idling laws for decades, but in recent years a new program has encouraged residents to turn a profit for taking the law into their own hands.
The Citizens Air Complaint program has been in place since 2018 and allows residents to go online to report illegally inactive trucks and buses in exchange for cash, namely 25% of the fine of $350 or more imposed on the driver of the utility vehicle. To report an idling truck or bus, residents must submit a video showing the vehicle idling for longer than the legal limit of three minutes. The video must also show the name of the trucking company.
The program does not support idling complaints against passenger vehicles.
According to a New York Times report from March 2022, the city has paid out $1.1 million in anti-idling “bounties” since 2019. Eighty-one-year-old New Yorker Paul Slapikas earned 64 $000 in 2021 alone thanks to the program.
In February 2020, Mayor Bill de Blasio raised the profile of the Citizens Air Complaint Program when he unveiled a splashy new ad campaign titled “Billy Never Idles” featuring rocker Billy Idol designed to “declare war” on vehicles in slow motion in New York.
‘If you don’t do the right thing and you’re idling, we’ll come get you,’ says de Blasio pic.twitter.com/S7JGwKOPYT
— Matthew Chayes (@chayesmatthew) February 27, 2020
In the VICE video below, environmental activist George Pakenham shows reporters exactly how he banked thousands of dollars by submitting evidence of commercial vehicle idling. In the 2019 video, he says he won $9,000 for filing 120 idling complaints. As of February 2020, he says he has earned around $17,000.
For more information on the Citizen Air Complaint Program, you can click here.