A TikTok user recently went viral with a video highlighting New York City’s Citizens Air Complaint Program, which allows locals to earn cash for tattling on idling trucks.
TikTok user doobzee.eth garnered 1.3 million views for an October 17 video outlining how New York City residents can earn extra cash by reporting idling trucks as a “wild side hustle.”
@doobzee.eth #greenscreen Would you do this or is this just snitching? #nyc #sidehustle #idling #snitching ♬ Violin – Grooving Gecko
“Just be careful because a lot of people have been punched or even stabbed by truck drivers for doing this,” the video warns.
New York City has had anti-idling laws on the books for decades, but over the past several years, a new program has encouraged locals to earn 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 idling trucks and buses in exchange for cash — namely, 25% of the $350 or higher fine imposed on the commercial vehicle driver. 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 allow for idling complaints to be filed against passenger vehicles.
According to a March 2022 New York Times report, 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 through 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 called “Billy Never Idles” featuring rocker Billy Idol designed to “declare war” on idling vehicles in New York City.
Standing with @BillyIdol — “Billy Never Idles is the campaign’s slogans — @BilldeBlasio says the city will pay people to report idling vehicles to the authorities.
“If you don’t do the right thing and you’re idling, we’re coming for you,” de Blasio says 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 idling commercial vehicles. In the 2019 video, he says he had earned $9000 for submitting 120 idling complaints. By February 2020, he says he’s earned around $17,000.
For more information on the Citizens Air Complaint Program, you can click here.