Thursday, October 16, 2008

CARB enforcement, no holds barred

CARB has taken the kid gloves off.

The California Air Resources Board announced just last week that it was sending members of its staff into the field to begin strict enforcement of its idling rules – including the five-minute limit for commercial trucks.

Here’s how things work in a nut shell.

Trucks, even those with sleeper berths, are not allowed to idle more than 5 minutes in an hour.

The only exceptions for the vast majority of truckers are:

  • You are stuck in traffic;
  • Idling to service or inspect your vehicle;
  • You are using a power take-off device;
  • You cannot move because of mechanical failure, or bad weather;

If you violate the new truck idling rules, you could face a fine of $300. And if you do it again and again, you could face even higher fines, sometimes running $1,000 to $10,000.

The situation is dire for some truckers, who face forced confinement in their sleepers for rest periods.

The new enforcement effort has caused a lot of trucker reaction. One truck driver told us that the agency was stepping up enforcement in truck stop parking lots, something he questioned. Is it legal to go onto private property to enforce the rules?

It’s a good question.

I asked OOIDA’s Member Assistance Department about that. They concluded pretty much the same thing I did. There is nothing to stop CARB from doing that.

The truck stop is a public place, a business that welcomes members of the general public onto its property. And once CARB enforcers walk on that property, there’s nothing to stop them from ticketing any idling truck they see.

But that’s just another aspect of the situation – not the fundamental problem.

California has decided to single out truckers among all vehicle drivers as somehow responsible for the state’s air quality.

Admittedly, diesel fumes are worse than car fumes. But California has a heck of a lot more cars than it does trucks, and they’re all emitting tons upon tons of pollution.

Will state officials tell cars to shut the engines off and stop idling? I’d say no.

That’s because, first, so many cars run on the roads there, it would be impractical to try to shut them all down.

Second, trucks are an easy target. There aren’t nearly as many as cars, and with so many groups demonizing trucks, it’s easy to get lawmakers or agencies to pass a rule restricting them.

Of course, that leaves us with a number of problems that CARB hasn’t addressed. So let’s take a look at those.

First, this is inconsistent with other laws. Truckers are required to take their 10 hours off to get rest. How can the government expect truckers to get proper rest in a cab where the interior temperature may be well above 130 degrees?

Unfortunately, many of our laws contradict one another. And we the people pretty much have to live with it. Saying “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” won’t get you out of a ticket.

Second, while CARB could make an argument that owner-operators have the option of purchasing idle-reduction equipment such as APUs, no one can argue with any logic whatsoever that company drivers have that option.

So what should they do? Apparently, CARB’s answer is that they should roast out in the desert heat, which is plain bull.

So what can people like you and I do to help out those truckers?

The best thing is to get some useful information out there that can help those truckers.

We’ve spelled out the rules, which is a good step. But we plan to go much further. For truckers who don’t have an APU or other similar system, we’ll do some research and see if we can get some solid advice for you to follow.

But no matter what, be ready – those fines are high enough they could cause some real financial damage.

1 comment:

CARB Enforcement said...

There is a website that is covering the Cal Air Resources Board (CARB) and the urge to get their enforement tactics more transparent and fair to businesses in California. THey are called CERT - Californians for Enforcement-Reform and Transparency. Here is their website: