Small Fleets in California Face Major Upgrades at end of 2013
On January 1, 2014, a major exemption for small fleets (3 or less trucks) runs out. This means that the over 100,000 single, two and three truck operators registered in California and coming into California from all over the country are facing an upgrade requirement at the end of 2013. What this also means is that anyone who dispatches one of these heavy duty diesel vehicles in California or into California after 2014 will be subject to penalties if a non-compliant small fleet vehicle is found; no mater whose authority they are operating under.
Although only California based brokers are subject to direct penalties under this regulation, any motor carrier based anywhere will be caught up in the regulatory web and fined, potentially for each dispatch going back to the beginning of 2012. CARB has already levied heavy fines against drayage operators who dispatched non-compliant vehicles to covered Intermodal facilities over the past 3 years and just levied a $300,000 fine against a fleet for engaging in dray-off near the Mexican border. Proof in point that no one can escape the regulatory gauntlet; if you are operating in California, you must meet the standards.
To hammer home their authority where they need it, CARB has a couple of different measures at their disposal. One that allows them to deny registration at time of renewal through California DMV if a fleet has not paid their CARB related fines and another, in conjunction with CHP that allows them to impound vehicles that have cancelled registration because of outstanding violations. CARB can even levy an unfair business practices lawsuit against violators if the infraction is serious enough.
When they find you, they will fine you, and as many California diesel operators can attest, CARB settlements instruct you on how much you will need to pay in order to clear the citation; it is not really a negotiation, they settle on an amount and you pay it. The fine amount is of course in addition to the additional capital required to upgrade the equipment to meet the standards; a double edged pendulum for anyone who gets caught operating or dispatching non-compliant equipment.
Active engagement in the requirements is necessary to minimize the risk that all transportation businesses face when turning miles in the Golden State. Although the skies in California are getting clearer, the industry can expect more hazy insinuations from regulators regarding zero-emission freight corridors and sustainability plans that seek additional reductions from the on-road diesel sector. The efforts around emissions reductions are far from over, the sky’s the limit, no matter how clean (or dirty) it gets.